A US Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft takes off with medical supplies to India

New Delhi: Two massive military transport aircraft are on their way to India from the US carrying medical equipment to help in the fight against a deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin tweeted a video of one of the aircraft taxiing on a runway at a base of the US Air Force before taking off for the long-distance flight to India.
The US announced on Wednesday it was sending more than $100 million in supplies to India, days after US President Joe Biden promised to step up assistance.

The first shipment includes 960,000 rapid tests, which can detect Covid in 15 minutes, and 1 lakh N95 masks for frontline health workers, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said.

"Just as India sent assistance to the United States when our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need," a White House statement said.

The White House said it was also sending supplies to India to produce more than 20 million vaccine doses. The supplies are being diverted from US orders to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not been approved for use in the US, news agency AFP reported.

Nations have rushed supplies to India as it contends with one of the world's most catastrophic surges of Covid since the pandemic began, overwhelming hospitals and pushing crematoriums past capacity.

Social media is full of stories of desperate people trying to find oxygen or a hospital bed for their friends and family.

More and more people this time are complaining of breathlessness, which needs oxygen support. However, the supply of oxygen has become severely limited due to the sudden jump in demand across cities and towns. Only now the centre is running "Oxygen Express" trains carrying tankers to states worst hit by Covid.