Opinion

The United States is Obligated to Provide Pandemic Relief to India

As India struggles through its second wave of the pandemic, America should send relief in the form of vaccines, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment.

As vaccinations continue and cases fall, the pandemic in America is finally becoming more manageable. Families across the country have been preparing for a summer of celebration and a roaring twenties promised to us after a terrible pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not done spreading its rampage throughout the world. India is currently facing a huge COVID-19 crisis, and the United States of America must provide massive pandemic relief as soon as possible.

India, a country that had previously avoided the disastrous waves and hospital overflows experienced in the US, has descended into a state of turmoil as its COVID-19 cases and deaths have surged. India has gone from about 15,000 average daily cases a month ago — reasonable considering its population — to a country breaking case records every single day with an average of around 370,000 as of a week ago. The news feeds coming from the country are increasingly desperate and frightening, invoking dark memories of the COVID-19 winter here in America. Hospitals are turning away scores of patients as they run out of space, staff, and oxygen. Families frantically travel hundreds of miles to find full oxygen canisters for their loved ones as the government struggles to do much of anything. 

The American government must assist India — first and foremost because it has a moral obligation to do so. People are suffering greatly and we are in a position of privilege and are able to help them. As our case numbers recede significantly due to vaccinations, we can afford to send the necessary aid to them, including ventilators (of which we’ve already sent a thousand), massive amounts of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their struggling hospitals, millions of canisters of oxygen, and as many surplus vaccines as we can muster (AstraZeneca and otherwise). The irony lies in the fact that many of these things, including vaccines, are actually produced in factories in India itself and then bought by other countries. 

The US also has a political obligation to provide relief. India is a close friend of the United States and an increasingly important one to keep. While not officially allies, the US and India are Major Defense Partners. India is the world’s largest democracy and a major trade partner with the US, contributing about $149 billion in trade each year. India and America’s relationship is a valuable one to nurture, and we mustn’t let them down. Letting them flounder as we sit high upon stockpiles of everything they need would certainly be letting them down. 

 Perhaps none of that is convincing enough, perhaps most Americans would rather save money and effort, leaving the rest of the world to its own devices. But consider this: with the hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases in India every single day come more and more chances for a new variant to show up. Every single infection is potential for a mutation resulting in increased transmission, increased mortality or, scarier still, resistance to vaccines. Coming from a logical rather than altruistic point of view, helping reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in India will alleviate future pandemic struggles across the globe.

India is the most recent country in need of COVID-19 relief, but there will certainly be more in the foreseeable future. COVID-19 will not stop spreading, and American help will be needed again and again. More of the US’ allies will be hit, more variants will threaten to pop up, and more people’s lives will be on the line as the year progresses. The US must be prepared to continue offering its support — to show the world what a real world leader does.

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