New USAID administrator Samantha Power delivers emergency supplies to India amid COVID-19 surge

Last week marked Samantha Power’s first days as the 19th Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Supplies the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, donated to India, are unloaded from a U.S. Air Force plane in New Delhi, India on May 5, 2021. (USAID photo by Martha VanLieshout) 
Supplies the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, donated to India, are unloaded from a U.S. Air Force plane in New Delhi, India on May 5, 2021. (USAID photo by Martha VanLieshout)

Samantha Power, who served as Ambassador to the UN under the Obama Administration, spearheaded the Ebola epidemic response back in 2013, now plans on taking on the bigger challenge of combating the COVID-19 pandemic in India and across vulnerable developing countries.

The COVID-19 situation in India is constantly changing and although there has been massive international support to boost vaccine supply and medical equipment, India has surpassed 20 million COVID-19 cases, rising at more than 400,000 every day.

Recent spikes in countries surrounding India as well as uncertainty around the dangers of new reports of variants have caused great concern. 

“You don’t shy away from the world’s pain. You don’t compartmentalize it. You don’t consider it someone else’s problem,” said Power during last week’s welcome remarks.

Administrator Power also has been working closely with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance working to bolster vaccine supply in India and to low-and-middle-income countries.

Gavi, in partnership with the Serum Institute of India, is set to distribute between 190-250 million doses and around $30 million in cold chain equipment to India by this fall. 

Administrator Power met with USAID’s COVID-19 Task Force to discuss the U.S. Government’s global relief efforts.

Task Force Executive Director Jeremy Konyndyk and staff briefed Power on the status of the U.S. Government’s deployment of supplies to India—including six planes filled with oxygen supplies, N95 masks, rapid diagnostic tests, and medicine.

According to acting administrator Gloria Steele, administrator Power emphasized that the US will continue to work around the clock to provide support and assistance to the US partners in India, and highlighted newly released guidance, which will make it easier for teams in the field to secure lifesaving PPE. 

In her remarks, Power acknowledged the pain felt by USAID staff and people around the world due to the loss and hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that through pain and exhaustion, the agency must endure and work to secure a better future for everyone.

“It is our country’s actions, our ambition, our ability to get big things done that truly moves minds and changes futures,” she said.

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