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India will get assistance from over 40 countries, primarily oxygen-related equipment and drugs, to help in its fight against the “unprecedented second wave" of covid-19 infections, Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.

“We are facing an unprecedented second wave of the pandemic. As of now, we have over three million active cases. This has obviously put considerable pressure on our healthcare system, on capacities and resources that we have," he added.

Shringla said that two flights from Russia have landed with 20 oxygen production plants, ventilators and Favipiravir, while special flights were also expected from the US—two on Friday and one on Monday—with raw materials for the production of covid vaccines, oxygen-generating equipment and oxygen concentrators.

Earlier in the day, the White House said that ingredients to manufacture over 20 million doses of vaccines were being sent as part of the first tranche of aid. The Biden administration will also ship 1,100 cylinders, 1,700 oxygen concentrators, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million testing kits. Besides, “ 20,000 treatment courses of remdesivir (will be sent) to help treat hospitalized patients", the US said in a separate statement.

The Union foreign ministry is working with all departments to ensure expeditious clearance of all medical equipment and medicines at Indian ports, so that they can be dispatched quickly, Shringla added.

“Over 40 countries have committed to provide us with items that we need urgently." France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Bahrain, Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, Bangladesh and Bhutan are helping, Shringla said.

A flight from the UAE was expected to land on Thursday with 140 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen. Bahrain was to send a shipment of 40 metric tonnes of oxygen that Indian Navy ships were to bring back. Kuwait will supply 185 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen and 1,000 cylinders.

Besides, New Delhi has contracted to buy equipment from Indian and international corporates as well as Indian community associations across the world. Indian embassies around the world were given a list of urgently needed items, including liquid medical oxygen, oxygen producing units and drugs for coordinating with foreign governments and corporations to expedite delivery, Shringla said.

India expects to receive over 550 oxygen generating plants, more than 4,000 oxygen concentrators, 10,000 oxygen cylinders and 17 cryogenic oxygen tankers over the next few days.

US pharma major Gilead Sciences has offered 450,000 doses of antiviral medication Remdesivir with more doses expected from Egypt, Bangladesh and the UAE. India produces 67,000 doses of remdesivir per day, but the requirement rocketed to 200,000-300,000 doses a day. Shringla said the firms expect to boost production by up to 400,000 doses once raw materials are sent by Gilead and Roche Pharmaceuticals, which have promised to expedite the supplies of raw material so that Indian domestic production could be ramped up.

New Delhi was also looking to procure 300,000 doses of favipiravir from Russia and UAE, and Tocilizumab from Germany and Switzerland.

“The current situation is something we have never seen before...We have certainly prioritized items that we need, we are sourcing many of these items from many countries, but many countries have come forward on their own to offer assistance," Shringla said.

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