India is in great distress due to the 'killer' second wave of COVID and people are shaken up with the fear of the unknown amidst the crumbling medical infrastructure and facilities. In this heart-rending scenario, corporates from across the world have stepped in to provide help and support , including the much needed medicines and oxygen to Indians.
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc has decided to donate medicines worth over $70 million, which are essential for COVID treatment. In a tweet, Albert Burla, chairman and chief executive (CEO) of Pfizer says, "Right now, Pfizer colleagues at distribution centres in the US, Europe and Asia are hard at work rushing shipments of Pfizer medicines that the government of India has identified as part of their COVID treatment protocol. We are donating enough of these medicines to ensure that every COVID patient in every public hospital across India can have access to them in the next 90 days free of charge. This effort has the potential to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients."
Software services provider Accenture has pledged Rs185 crore to support the COVID relief work in India, including providing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to frontline healthcare workers, and food and home care kits to the unemployed and poor people of the country.
South Korean mobile and display maker Samsung has pledged $5 million (nearly Rs37 crore) as its contribution towards India's fight against the current surge of COVID cases in the country. "While we support you, oxygen concentrators, 3000 cylinders and 1 million low dead space (LDS) syringes are being airlifted from South Korea. Additionally, as part of our People initiative, Samsung India will cover the cost of COVID vaccination of its over 50,000 employees and other beneficiaries, including sales promoters at our stores across the country," the company says in a series of tweets.
Aerospace and defence major Raytheon Technologies Corp is sending 1,000 oxygen concentrators to India. Similarly, Mondelez International has announced a contribution of $2 million as part of the company's COVID relief efforts in India.
Meanwhile on the domestic front, steel and oil companies have emerged as the oxygen lifeline for the country gasping for breath in the ongoing second wave of the pandemic.
Companies such as Indian Oil Corp Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Vedanta, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Tata Steel Ltd have all been diverting large portions of industrial oxygen they produce for the manufacturing towards COVID relief. In fact, a few companies have cut down their routine production to make available additional oxygen for medical use across the country.
The support of these two sectors is crucial for COVID relief measures as they account for more than 60% of the country's 7,000 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen production per day.
The role of two steel public sector units (PSUs) - SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) has been significant. Since August last year, SAIL has already supplied 36,747 MT of liquid medical oxygen (LMO). The company has also reduced the production of gaseous oxygen, nitrogen, and argon besides optimizing process parameters in its plants to boost production of LMO.
Oil PSUs, Indian Oil, HPCL, BPCL have also ramped up oxygen production for supplies to hospitals across the country. In fact, the companies are also in the process of setting up pressure swing absorption (PSA) medical oxygen plants at over 90 locations across the country to facilitate captive oxygen generation facilities at hospitals.
Private sector metal and oil companies are not far behind and all are doing their bit to see that the national emergency is attended to. Hindustan Zinc (HZL), ESL and Sesa Goa Iron Ore Business have stepped in to augment oxygen supplies to COVID patients as part of the Vedanta Cares initiative.
HZL is currently supplying 5T (100% of liquid oxygen capacity) of oxygen per day which can be used for medical treatment and is in the process of increasing it by another 2-3T. Sesa Goa Iron Ore Business is supplying 3T of LMO daily to the Goa government and hospitals, while ESL, the Vedanta group's steel maker, has registered its plant near Bokaro for LMO and has committed to supply up to 10T of oxygen daily.
Sterlite Copper has also received approval from the Supreme Court to supply oxygen from its Tuticorin plant. Sterlite Copper's oxygen plants have a capacity to produce 1,000 tonnes of oxygen daily.
Also, to respond to the national urgency, Linde India has joined hands with the Tata group and the Government of India (GoI) to undertake measures to augment the availability of LMO across the country.
On Tuesday, SpiceJet's air cargo unit SpiceXpress airlifted 2,450 oxygen concentrators from Nanjing, China and Hong Kong to Kolkata and New Delhi.
Amid the COVID crisis, logistics and shipping software solution provider for e-commerce businesses, Pickrr, has announced a 100% subsidy on delivery charges for all non-profit organisations (NGOs) supplying Covid-19 essentials across the country.