Drug major AstraZeneca on Tuesday said it has pledged $250,000 (over Rs 1.8 crore) in humanitarian aid to India to support relief activities amid the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across the country. The aid to India is part of the $1 million which the British-Swedish multinational has earmarked for relief initiatives across communities which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Today, AstraZeneca pledges $1 million in humanitarian aid to support relief activities in India as well as other communities around the world hardest hit by the pandemic.
"This includes directing $250,000 direct relief to support their efforts in India, which includes the distribution of oxygen concentrators, medicines, other supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide treatment and care for those with COVID-19," AstraZeneca said in a statement on Twitter.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause devastation around the world, with India currently facing an incredible humanitarian crisis from a surge of cases and related deaths, it noted. "To date, approximately 10 per cent of India's population of 1.3 billion has received one dose of our vaccine -- known in India as Covishield -- accounting for 90 per cent of all vaccination," AstraZeneca said.
The company's partner in the country, Serum Institute of India (SII), already produces more COVID-19 vaccine doses than any other organisation globally, it noted. Access to COVID-19 vaccination is a critical component in tackling the pandemic, in India and beyond, the drug major said.
It is why AstraZeneca has devoted its time, resources, and energy to develop a vaccine that is available at no profit during the pandemic and supplied equitably to as many people as possible, it added. "We thank AstraZeneca for their unwavering support. We are working together to scale up and committed to provide more vaccines to India by July. This will help us to protect countless lives against this devastating virus," SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot noted that the company remains steadfast in its continued commitment to changing the course of the pandemic for the people of India. "We hope that through increasing vaccinations, humanitarian relief efforts, and critical donations of medicines and needed equipment, India will steadily recover from this crisis. We stand united with the people of India, as we work tirelessly to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible," he added.
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