President Donald Trump has announced that the US will donate a lot of ventilators to India to help it fight the “invisible enemy”, moments after he underlined the close partnership between the two countries and called Prime Minister Narendra Modi his “good friend”.
Trump also said the US and India were cooperating to develop a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that has claimed 307,666 lives and infected more than 4.5 million people globally since it emerged in China in December last year.
India’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 85,000 on Friday, surpassing China’s count of 82,933 infections.
“I am proud to announce that the United States will donate ventilators to our friends in India,” Trump said in a tweet.
However, the White House did not say how many breathing devices would be sent.
“We are sending a lot of ventilators to India. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi. We are sending quite a few ventilators to India. We have tremendous supply of ventilators,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One on his way to Camp David on Friday.
“Together we will beat the invisible enemy! We stand with India and Prime Minister Modi during this pandemic,” Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House.
The president is scheduled to spend his weekend at Camp David for a number of meetings.
At Trump’s request, India had last month allowed the export of 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to treat COVID-19 patients in America, the country worst-hit by the pandemic, with 87,530 deaths and over 1.4 million infections reported so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Earlier in the day, Trump praised India and Prime Minister Modi.
“India has been so great and as you know your prime minister has been a very good friend of mine. I just got back a short while ago from India and we are very much together,” the president said, referring to his visit to New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Agra in February.
Trump said Indian-Americans were “great” scientists and researchers, who were contributing to the development of the coronavirus vaccine.
He said a COVID-19 vaccine would likely be available by the end of the year. Trump has appointed the former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline to spearhead the vaccine development effort.
“The president just extolled our great relationship with India. India has been a great partner to us for quite some time. I am encouraged to hear ventilators to India,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press briefing.
She said India will be among several countries that would be getting the ventilators.
A number of countries, including India, are trying to procure ventilators needed for hospitals to deal with the demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Last month, China said it was ready to help India procure the ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, but underlined that Chinese firms are finding it difficult to scale-up production as they needed imported parts.
A ventilator takes over the body’s breathing process when disease has caused the lungs to fail. This gives the patient time to fight off the infection and recover.