Canada sending ventilators, remdesivir to support COVID-19 response in India
EDMONTON -- Canada is sending as many as 25,000 vials of the antiviral remdesivir and up to 350 ventilators from its National Emergency Strategic Stockpile to help respond to the critical COVID-19 situation in India.
A plane equipped with the remdesivir vials and 50 ventilators that were ready for shipment left a Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont. on Wednesday bound for India, where almost 4,000 people died from COVID-19 in the space of a day.
The 25,000 vials of remdesivir, used to treat patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms, is equivalent to more than 4,000 courses of treatment.
“Canada continues to stand in solidarity with the people of India. We must all unite in this hour of need and work together in the global fight against this virus that is devastating lives across the globe," Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau said in a statement issued Wednesday.
India has been grappling with a devastating second surge in infections in recent weeks, accounting for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and a quarter of the deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
With hospitals scrabbling for beds and oxygen in response to a deadly second surge in infections, many people have died in ambulances and parking lots waiting for a bed or oxygen, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with the sheer volume of bodies.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will send $10 million through the Canadian Red Cross to the Indian Red Cross to fund ambulance services and the local purchasing of personal protective equipment.
The federal government has also provided 1,450 oxygen concentrators through UNICEF's India response initiative. The donations are funded in part from the $230-million contribution to the therapeutics pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, announced in December 2020.
Both Ontario and Saskatchewan will also send some of their own ventilators to India, despite recent surges of cases in both provinces.
The 350 ventilators promised by the feds will come from Canada's national emergency stockpile. Federal data show Canada has received over 27,000 ventilators since the beginning of the pandemic.