Facebook has announced a $10 million grant to support emergency response efforts in India and has rolled out its Vaccine Finder tool in the country as the South Asian nation grapples with the latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The American social network said that it has partnered with a number of organizations including United Way, Swasth, Hemkunt Foundation, I Am Gurgaon, Project Mumbai and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) to help augment critical medical supplies with over 5,000 oxygen concentrators and other life-saving equipment such as ventilators, BiPAP machines and to increase hospital bed capacity.
Facebook also said it has partnered with the government of India to roll out a Vaccine Finder tool on the company’s marquee app. The tool, available in 17 languages, is designed to help people identify and spot vaccine centres in their vicinity.
Last week, India opened vaccination to people aged between 18 to 45, though its website quickly crashed and wasn’t immediately accepting appointment requests from most people in that age group.
A bigger challenge confronting India currently, however, is the shortage of vaccine.
Facebook said it is also supporting nongovernment organizations and United Nation agencies in India with ad credits to reach the majority of people on Facebook with COVID-19 vaccine and preventive health information.
Additionally, the company said it is providing health resources to people from UNICEF India about when to seek emergency care and how to manage mild COVID-19 symptoms at home.
Scores of firms, startups, entrepreneurs and investors have stepped up their efforts in recent weeks to help India, the world’s second most populous country, fight the pandemic after the federal and state governments were caught ill-prepared to handle it.
On Monday, Pfizer said it was sending medicines worth $70 million to India. “We are committed to being a partner in India’s fight against this disease and are quickly working to mobilize the largest humanitarian relief effort in our company’s history,” said the company’s chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla.