Coronavirus India Updates:  We Are Determined To Help India In Its Time Of Need, Says President Biden
Rows of beds in booths in a Covid-19 hospital set up inside a stadium in New Delhi. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Coronavirus India Updates: We Are Determined To Help India In Its Time Of Need, Says President Biden

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U.S., EU Promise Aid To India

Pursuant to a call between the two countries’ national security advisors, Jake Sullivan and Ajit Doval, the U.S. has offered to make available resources and supplies to help India as it battles a ferocious second wave of Covid-19 infections.

As per the statement issued by The White House -

U.S. says it has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required by India to manufacture Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India.

U.S. has identified supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment that will immediately be made available for India.

It is also is pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.

The U.S. Development Finance Corporation is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022.

European Commission officials also issued brief comments on social media indicating assistance from EU countries.

U.K.’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said vital medical equipment was on the way from his country.

Covaxin Vs Covishield Pricing

Bharat Biotech Ltd. has priced its homegrown coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, at Rs 600 per dose for states and Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. The vaccine, developed in collaboration with the government-funded Indian Council of Medical Research -National Institute of Virology, is priced higher than Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, co-invented by University of Oxford and manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India.

Purchase Price For States

  • Covishield: Rs 400 per dose
  • Covaxin: Rs 600 per dose

Purchase Price For Private Hospitals

  • Covishield: Rs 600 per dose
  • Covaxin: Rs 1,200 per dose

Also read: Free To Rs 2,400: What A Covid Vaccine Will Cost You

Rajasthan Also Promises Free Covid-19 Vaccines 

Rajasthan will also vaccinate people above 18 years free, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted. That will cost the state about Rs 3,000 crore, he said.

Gehlot, however, said it would have been better if the central government would have also borne the cost of vaccinating people aged 18-45 years.

Rajasthan's announcement came few hours after Maharahstra also announced to vaccinate adults free. They join a growing list of states that have promised free Covid-19 doses.

Also read: Maharashtra, Rajasthan Join States Promising Free Covid-19 Vaccine

551 New Oxygen Plants To Be Funded Via PM Cares Fund 

As fresh Covid-19 infections and deaths continue to rise, overwhelming India’s healthcare system, the Prime Minister’s Office has allowed funding through the PM Cares Fund to set up 551 oxygen plants across the country,

“In line with prime minister’s direction of boosting availability of oxygen to hospitals, the PM CARES Fund has given in-principle approval for allocation of funds for installation of 551 dedicated Pressure Swing Adsorption Medical Oxygen Generation Plants inside public health facilities in the country,” a government statement said.

The Prime Minister, it said, has directed that these plants should be made functional as soon as possible. He said these plants will serve as a major boost to oxygen availability at the district level.

That comes as India’s social media is full of images of the sick and dying. Some cities, including the national capital Delhi, are facing shortage of oxygen and people have taken to social media to seek help. Several hospitals in Delhi regularly tweet about shortage of oxygen, critical to treat seriously ill Covid-19 patients.

The new oxygen plants, according to the statement, will be established in identified government hospitals in district headquarters in various states and union territories. The procurement will be done through Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

In Maharashtra, the plants will be set up in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad, Latur, Nanded, Hingoli, Akola, Buldhana, Washim, Wardha, Yavatmal, Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli.

The PM CARES Fund had earlier this year allocated Rs.201.58 crore for installation of additional 162 dedicated Pressure Swing Adsorption Medical Oxygen Generation Plants inside public health facilities in the country.

The government statement, however, didn’t elaborate how many of those were built.

Maharashtra Joins States Promising Free Covid-19 Vaccine

Maharashtra has promised free vaccination against the coronavirus after India opened its inoculation programme to all adults amid a crippling second surge of Covid-19.

There will be a free vaccination drive in Maharashtra once it is opened up for all adult citizens above 18, ANI reported on Sunday quoting state minister Nawab Malik.

The state joins a growing list of local governments that have already announced free vaccination for their citizens. These include Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Sikkim, Goa, among others. In West Bengal, where polls are underway, both incumbent Trinamool National Congress and the challenger Bharatiya Janata Party have promised free vaccination to adults.

Delhi Extends Lockdown By A Week

The Delhi government extended the Covid-19 lockdown by a week as fresh cases continue to surge in the national capital, overwhelming its hospitals.

The restrictions barring most other activities except essential services will remain in force till May 3, 5 a.m. Under the six-day lockdown first announced last week, only essential services are allowed—banks, insurance offices and shops selling groceries, dairies, confectioneries remain open.

Public transport such as buses and metros are also allowed with 50% capacity; auto-rickshaws and cabs are also allowed to take up to two passengers.

Among things that are prohibited are social and political sports, entertainment, academic and cultural religious festival related and other gathering. All other private offices, shops, shopping centres, malls, weekly markets, educational and coaching institutes, cinema theatres restaurant and bars, auditoriums, amusement parks will remain closed.

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