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June 16, 2021 4:21 pm

‘Every Oxygen Concentrator We Provide Can Save 20 Lives’: Israeli Aid Continues as India Faces Possible Third COVID Wave

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Shipments of medical equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic arriving in India. Photo: Israeli Embassy to India

As India prepares for a possible third wave of COVID-19 after recording over 29 million infections, Israel is sharing its advanced technology for the rapid manufacturing of oxygen concentrators, generators and different kinds of respirators.

“Israel shares all of its achievements and knowledge, from successfully fighting the pandemic and the latest technology that was developed in the country to very efficiently and rapidly manufacture oxygen concentrators,” Ron Malka, Israel’s Ambassador to India, said in an interview with The Algemeiner. “During the catastrophic second wave of COVID-19 infections which took India by surprise, Israel has continued sending aid cargo with oxygen concentrators and respirators to India.”

Israel has already sent a few batches of life-saving medical equipment to India, including over 1300 oxygen concentrators and 400 respirators, which arrived in New Delhi over the past month. So far, the Israeli government has sent more than 60 tons of medical supplies, 3 oxygen generators, and 420 ventilators to India. Israel has allotted a public fund of over $3.3 million for the aid effort.

“Even as hundreds of missiles were fired at Israel from Gaza during last month’s hostilities, we continued this operation and collected as much as possible because we understood the urgency of the humanitarian need. That’s why we didn’t stop this operation as every hour counts in providing live-saving equipment,” said Malka.

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“There were some oxygen concentrators which were used on the same day they landed in India saving lives in hospitals in New Delhi,” he added.What the Indians say is that every oxygen concentrator we provide can save 20 lives on average.”

Israel has also launched a special campaign for raising funds to buy medical equipment and support aid to India from businesses. One of the organizations helping to rally support is Start-Up Nation Central, which raised about $85,000 from the private sector to buy 3.5 tons of equipment, including oxygen concentrators.

“India does not need money. They need availability of medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators as much as possible,” Anat Bernstein-Reich, chairwoman at the Israel-India Chambers of Commerce told The Algemeiner. “We saw donations from as little as 50 shekels by Bezalel [art academy] students to 150,000 shekels by Israeli company Amdocs.”

Large donations were also received by companies Ginegar Plastic, IceCure Medical, Phinergy, an Israeli developer of metal-air energy systems and Phibro Animal Health, according to Bernstein-Reich.

Other Israeli businesses which have contributed by providing oxygen equipment include large local corporates such as Israel Chemicals Ltd., Elbit Systems Ltd., and IDE Technologies.

Additionally, radiologists at hospitals in India are using Israeli tech company RADLogics’ artificial-intelligence software for diagnostic imaging to help detect and identify COVID-19 infection in chest CT images and X-ray scans. Hospitals in India use RADLogics’ software as a service, which is installed and integrated on-site and via the cloud, for free.

“The private sector contributed so much that we still have available money. The effective constraint now is to find more medical oxygen equipment from warehouses to renew and overhaul them,” according to Malka. “Last week we sent another shipment of 150 renewed oxygen concentrators. We are still collecting more and maybe next week we will send another shipment.”

As India is starting to get over the deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, major cities — where the tally of new infections fell to a two-month low — are beginning to lift lockdown restrictions reopening shops and malls. Back in April and May, when India suffered from a severe shortage of medical supplies such as life-saving oxygen and ventilators, the country battled with as many as 350,000 new daily COVID-19 infections, overcrowded hospitals and hundreds of thousands of deaths. Nationwide, new daily infections have now dropped to about 60,471.

“The pace of vaccination in India has advanced but there is still a long way to go. Experts say it may well take up to two years until they get vaccination at this tipping point of the population that will bring them to a more save place,” noted Malka. “There might be more waves, more mutants, variants. They need to be prepared. Amid concern of a third wave that might come, India is starting to build new factories for oxygen concentrators. Now we are helping Indian entities with that.”

“We transferred advanced Israeli technology for rapid manufacturing of oxygen concentrators and generators and different kinds of respirators that were found useful in fighting this pandemic,” the ambassador said.

During Israel’s own coronavirus wave, the country repurposed defense and military technologies for civilian uses. For example, together with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the government converted within a week a missile production facility to mass produce ventilators, in an effort to offset a shortage of the life-saving machines. IAI is also among the donors of oxygen concentrators to India.

Israel is now also working on a plan to cooperate with India on medical research for medicines to fight COVID-19 as the country is preparing for more waves of infections.

“Israel and India can be a shining example for the world how countries can collaborate and cooperate in times of crisis and support each other,” Malka concluded.

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