On 18 September 2020, the United States donated 200 ventilators to a stockpile of medical supplies that NATO has established to respond to a potential second wave of COVID-19. The US Agency for International Development delivered the ventilators to the NATO Support and Procurement Agency’s Southern Operational Centre in Taranto, Italy. Civilian and military officials from Italy, the United States and other Allied countries attended the handover ceremony.
Mr. Jeremy Gustafson, Senior Development Advisor to the U.S European Command at the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) said: “USAID’s contribution of 200 brand-new, high-quality, American made ventilators to NATO’s medical stockpile underscores the strength of the NATO alliance and US support for our allies in their time of need. This donation builds upon more than 20.5 billion USD that the United States has committed to fight COVID-19 around the world.” He added that throughout Europe and Eurasia, “USAID and the State Department have committed more than 115 million USD in emergency health assistance to the region; this assistance is preparing laboratory systems, activating case-finding and event-based surveillance, supporting technical experts for response and preparedness, bolstering risk communication, and more. USAID is also providing an additional 5 million USD to empower civil society and media groups to address democratic backsliding that could occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The US Office of Defense Cooperation has also supported Italy during the pandemic with $50 million for high-tech durable medical equipment and with millions of dollars of further supplies.
“Today’s event is evidence of the unique collaboration between the US Government, NATO, NATO Support and Procurement Agency and Italy, and of the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach to solve common issues,” Brigadier General Renato Lepore, Commander of the Southern Operational Centre of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency said. Brigadier General Lepore highlighted that the Centre has provided valuable contributions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by “joining efforts with an Italian team of engineers to make 3D printed connectors converting snorkeling masks into ventilators masks – which were then donated to the Italian Civil Protection Department – and to print 3D face shields donated to the local hospital.”
During the Coronavirus crisis the NATO Support and Procurement Agency has provided strategic airlift capabilities and managed key relief acquisition and transport to help Allies transferring urgent medical supplies and equipment. It has also provided rapidly accessible infrastructure to augment national medical capabilities and it has engaged in innovative projects in support to health workers. Since the start of the pandemic, military forces from across the Alliance have flown more than 100 missions to transport medical personnel and hundreds of tons of supplies, facilitated the construction of field hospitals, and added tens of thousands of treatment beds; and thousands of military medical personnel have been deployed in support of civilian efforts. NATO’s main civil emergency response mechanism, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response and Coordination Centre, has coordinated 125 offers in response to 19 requests for support from NATO Allies and partners and international organizations.