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COVID-19: India begins accepting foreign aid for the first time in 16 years

Around 16 years ago, Manmohan Singh had announced that New Delhi will not accept aid from foreign countries.

April 29, 2021 / 02:56 PM IST

In a significant shift from the erstwhile policy of not accepting foreign aid, the India has started accepting fiscal aid, donations and gifts from countries as the country is battling to contain the spiraling COVID-19 cases and deaths.

With the massive rise in infections in the second wave of the pandemic, several states have been reeling under a severe shortage of medical oxygen, beds, ventilators and other medical supplies.

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Countries around the world have offered to send medical supplies to help India tide over the situation So far the list includes the US, Russia, France, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Luxembourg, Singapore, Portugal, Sweden, New Zealand, Kuwait and Mauritius.

Besides these countries, India has also approved aid from neighbouring China. "India now has no conceptual problem in procuring oxygen-related equipment and life-saving medicines from China," a source told Indian Express. The government is, however, yet to decide on whether to accept help from Pakistan.

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Read: UN agencies procuring 7,000 oxygen concentrators, COVID-19 testing machines, PPEs for India: UN spokesperson

Around 16 years ago, Manmohan Singh had announced that New Delhi will not accept aid from foreign countries. The former prime minister had refused aid from foreign countries in 2004 during the devastating Tsunami.

Since then, India has refused foreign aid during calamities like the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, and the Kashmir floods in 2014.

Read: US delivering supplies worth over $100 million to India; first flight to land today: White House

Even during the 2018 Kerala floods, the UAE had offered Rs 700 for relief but the Centre refused it saying it would meet the state’s requirements for relief and rehabilitation through “domestic efforts”.

India on April 29 reported a record single-day rise of 3,79,257 COVID-19 infections taking the total tally to 1,83,76527. More than two lakh people have died with a record 3,645 daily new fatalities.

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first published: Apr 29, 2021 02:34 pm

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