While US pharma giant Gilead Sciences has agreed to provide 450,000 vials of Remdesevir, the government is also looking to procure it from countries like Egypt, Uzbekistan, UAE and Bangladesh. Official sources said Indian missions in these countries are working to facilitate purchase of the Covid-19 drug which remains in high demand in India as the pandemic runs riot.
Faced with an acute shortage of the antiviral drug, India had earlier this month waived import duty on import of Remdesevir and the raw materials used to manufacture it. Official sources here described as a diplomatic victory Remdesevir owner Gilead’s decision to donate 450 vials of the drug and also provide raw materials for ramping up local production.
With the first US consignment of oxygen-related equipment likely to arrive in India on Friday, sources here also denied that India had not earlier asked the US for Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca or any other available with the country.
A US official was quoted as saying this week that India hadn’t asked for “ready-to-use” vaccines. Sources here said though that India’s need for vaccine was at least twice conveyed to the US. To expedite its own vaccination programme, India is hoping to get some of the 10 million doses of AstraZeneca which the US already has and another 50 million doses under production there. India also expects US to approve supply of filters required for manufacturing the Covishield vaccine.
Official sources also clarified that while India wasn’t going to reject assistance in the form of grants, the government had not issued any appeal for international help. The main agenda, they said, was to procure from abroad specific equipment like oxygen generation plants and concentrators that can help ease the oxygen situation in the country and also medicines like Remdesevir. A list of such equipment has been provided to Indians missions for procurement. India normally accepts aid for projects from major development partners like Japan and US.
Countries like Switzerland are providing aid in the form of oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other medical equipment that will be distributed with the support of the Indian Red Cross Society.
In terms of assistance from the private sector, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is said to be working to help transport oxygen in India. “They will airlifting oxygen cylinders into India. Through donation of member companies, USISPF is sourcing 100,000 portable oxygen concentrators for use at home and hospitals to be shipped to India immediately”, said a source.