Bay Area Indian community leading drive to send oxygen to India during COVID crisis

SILICON VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The alarming spike in COVID cases in India has created a scramble to locate and ship oxygen devices wherever they can be found. And it's taking the logistical and networking skills of the Bay Area's Indian American community to make it happen

The explosion of COVID cases in India has overwhelmed its hospitals, leaving many patients without access to lifesaving oxygen.

This group of acquaintances, close friends and relatives in Silicon Valley, Europe and India has mobilized to send oxygen concentrators where they're desperately needed.

"We've been able to literally pull together members of the Indian community around the world in all time zones in various continents, and we're all working at the same course," said Reenita Hora, who heads marketing and communications at Menlo Park-based SRI International.

Dr. Manoj Gupta, an expert in logistics and distribution, is based in Delhi, one of the hardest-hit areas.

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"There is panic and fear, and the demand is very high because the people are not getting oxygen," he said.

Oxygen concentrators made by Devilbiss in the U.S. are what they're sourcing wherever available globally. Brannon's Medical in San Jose was able to show us one. The backpack-sized units are portable and suitable for home use. Demand for them is strong with high COVID case counts in India and Brazil.

"There's allocations which are already on, and the suppliers themselves are under a lot of strain," explained Sandeep Hora, another logistics expert based in Delhi, India where he is CEO of an industrial safety appliance firm. "Presently, we've started with about 3,000 plus units, and we plan to build on that."

Bay Area's Kanika Mediratta is running her own campaign on covidreliefindia.com to procure units for the Delhi Government. Response to fundraising has been high. An initial campaign enabled the purchase of 224 units from a different supplier in China.

RELATED: California sending oxygen equipment to help India's COVID crisis

"We've been able to raise over $280,000 on our GoFundMe campaign from people across the globe," said Kanika Mediratta, a Bay Area bank executive. She and her husband Rohit collaborated with two U.S.-based nonprofits on fundraising.

The government of India has reduced the import tariff in light of the need.

"We are trying to do our small part, using our networks to bring the few lifesaving oxygen concentrators to those where the need is the most urgent, knowing truly well that each life we save is going to be a precious one," said Atul Pahwa, an executive based in Lausanne, Switzerland, who has been coordinating device orders.

The Oxygen for India team also works with a nonprofit on the ground in India. If you would like to help, here's the link to the GoFundMe campaign.

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