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South Coast Non-Profit Preparing 100 Ton Shipment Of Emergency COVID-19 Medical Supplies For India

(DRI photo by Tony Morain)
A FedEx Boeing 777 takes a planeload of critically needed COVID-19 related medical supplies from Santa Barbara's Direct Relief to India

Direct Relief sending out second jumbo jet full of supplies in a week

A South Coast based non-profit is reaching halfway around the world to help a country which is being overwhelmed by a COVID-19 surge.

In a giant Santa Barbara warehouse, crews have been preparing their second 100 ton shipment of emergency COVID-19 medical supplies for India in a week.

Thomas Tighe is President and CEO of Direct Relief. The non-profit is known for providing medicine, and medical supplies to parts of America and the world facing disasters and health emergencies.

Tighe says last Saturday, and again this Saturday, FedEx has offered the use of one of its giant Boeing 777 jumbo jets to fly emergency medical supplies from the U.S. to India. The planes can carry more than 200,000 pounds of cargo a flight.

The main thing Direct Relief is shipping are oxygen concentrators. As you probably know, critically ill COVID-19 patients often need oxygen. Instead of using oxygen tanks which need to be refilled at factories, the concentrators just have to be plugged into a power socket, and they can create concentrated oxygen.

Depending on how much they can get in charter plane, they may also send hundreds of thousands of KN95 masks to India.

The flight leaves Saturday from Newark, New Jersey. Direct Relief crews have been busy preparing the 100 ton shipment in Santa Barbara. During the next two days, a caravan of FedEx trucks will take the supplies cross country.

(Photo courtesy Lara Cooper)
Oxygen concentrators being packed for shipment to India in Direct Relief's warehouse

The Direct Relief official says they have a partner in India which will turn the supplies around quickly, and get them into the hands of those who critically need them.

More than 300,000 new COVID-19 cases are being reported a day in India. While that’s down slightly from last week, officials fear it is spreading into more rural areas of the country. Many also worry the totals are grossly underreported.

Tighe says a number of non-profits and governments are trying to help with the crisis. But, he says given its 1.4 billion person population, for Direct Relief at least it could be high on their priority list for some time still.

After this weekend’s shipment arrives, Direct Relief officials say they will have shipped 4500 of the critically needed oxygen concentrators to India.