Israel considers sending aid to virus-ravaged India

Shipment would reportedly include medical equipment, oxygen supplies, and various drugs, in response to unofficial request made to embassy in New Dehli

Relatives mourn near a coffin containing the body of a person who died of COVID-19, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 25, 2021. (Mukhtar Khan/ AP)
Relatives mourn near a coffin containing the body of a person who died of COVID-19, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 25, 2021. (Mukhtar Khan/ AP)

Israel is considering offering medical aid to India, as the Asian country struggles to tackle a wave of coronavirus infections that has overburdened its hospitals, with hundreds of thousands of cases diagnosed each day and thousands of dead.

Talks on the matter were held at the Foreign Ministry, as well as with Indian officials, but so far no decision has been made, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday

An unofficial request for medical equipment, including oxygen supplies and various drugs, was reportedly made to the Israeli embassy in India.

Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said in a statement Sunday that it had approached the health and foreign ministries asking for approval to immediately send a consignment of aid equipment and manpower to India to assist with the crisis.

“In my opinion, this is the correct and moral thing to do at this time,” said Ichilov Hospital Director Ronni Gamzu, Israel’s former coronavirus czar.

“We cannot have the time of our lives while, on the other side of the world, they are burning bodies,” Gamzu said, referring to Israel’s success at bringing down its own infection rates and moves to roll back restrictions on public life as it returns to normalcy.

Israel and India have cooperated in the past on the coronavirus and last April the New Delhi government reportedly sent Israel five tons of the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are used to treat malaria. At the time the drugs were being reviewed in various countries as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

India’s health system is buckling under rampaging infections that have seen the country’s daily caseload record broken four days in succession with 349,691 diagnosed on Sunday, and 2,767 deaths.

Reports have said there are severe oxygen and medicine shortages, with patients’ families pleading for help on social media.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a monthly radio address Sunday that India had been shaken by a “storm,” as he called on people to get vaccinated and not “get swayed by any rumor about the vaccines.”

The country has administered almost 141 million vaccine shots so far, but experts say the mass inoculation program needs to be significantly stepped up in the nation of 1.3 billion people.

Britain said Sunday it will later this week send 600 pieces of medical equipment including ventilators to India to help the country in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Biden administration’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the US is also actively looking at ways to boost aid to India.

Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” that several measures are being considered, including sending over oxygen supplies, COVID-19 tests, drug treatments and personal protective equipment.

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