A FedEx-donated Boeing 777 fully loaded with oxygen concentrators and other supplies from Direct Relief is flying this weekend to India — for the second time in as many weeks — to help patients with Covid-19 survive the pandemic’s deadliest surge yet.
Clinicians have correlated drastic drops in the blood oxygen levels of Covid patients with a greater likelihood of death. India has experienced crippling shortages of medical-grade oxygen, in part due to the need to transport oxygen cylinders hundreds of miles via cryogenic tankers, from production plants to hospitals, then back for refilling. According to BMJ, 41% of patients admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 require supplemental oxygen, while only 2% need mechanical ventilation.
Oxygen concentrators don’t require tanks, just electric power to remove nitrogen from the air and produce purified oxygen. Direct Relief is delivering two oxygen concentrator types — high-flow and low-flow. High-flow oxygen concentrators are used in hospitals to treat patients needing intensive care, providing 10 liters per minute of oxygen. Low-flow concentrators generate 5 liters per minute and help hospitals safely discharge patients who are stable but require at-home breathing support.
The May 15 flight from Newark to Delhi will deliver 286 high-flow oxygen concentrators and 500 low-flow concentrators, adding to the 3,500 concentrators from Direct Relief transported via another FedEx-donated charter that arrived May 9 and coordinated with the Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai, which cleared the items and distributed them within two days to more than 40 hospitals in the region. This weekend’s flight also includes 1.8 million KN95 masks, 125,000 gloves, and other requested medical items.
Direct Relief staff and partner organizations in India will distribute the supplies throughout the country to medical facilities caring for Covid-19 patients. Direct Relief has provided medical assistance to India since 1960, working with a range of partners, from medical outreach camps to rural clinics and hospitals, community-based health centers, and tertiary level facilities in large urban areas.
“It’s our mission to use our global logistics network to help deliver critical aid to India, where it’s needed most right now,” said Raj Subramaniam, president and COO, FedEx Corp. “We’ve been fighting this pandemic from the frontlines since the beginning, and will continue the fight until it’s over.”
“Direct Relief is grateful beyond words for FedEx, once again, delivering urgently needed assistance to people in India at a scale the FedEx team is uniquely able to handle,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President and CEO. “The decisive action to donate the company’s enormous capacity and exceptional skills is a huge humanitarian force multiplier — and a powerful example of the type of public-spirited leadership needed to get everyone, everywhere safely to the other side of the pandemic.”