With KEVIN FREKING
WASHINGTON (AP) – After a shortage of ventilators but now filled with additions, the United States has sent 1,271 ventilators to seven countries, with the latest shipment to El Salvador.
A senior administration official said Tuesday that ventilators had been sold and sent to Australia, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and Britain. Ventilators were donated to South Africa and El Salvador.
The official was not authorized to speak openly about the matter and speak on condition of anonymity. The official said the Trump administration had committed to provide more than 15,000 ventilators to more than 60 countries.
Russia is on that list. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday the United States would send two planes with ventilators to Russia as donations. According to Russian media, the shipment will include 200 breathing machines, 50 of which might be sent to Moscow on Wednesday.
Russia sent a full package of medical supplies, including a ventilator, to the US last month.
President Donald Trump was asked on Tuesday whether he saw ventilator shipments as a way to strengthen relations with other countries.
“I’m looking to save lives,” Trump said. “If we can save lives in another country, that’s a great thing. So, I’m just looking to save lives. Maybe it was diplomatically good, but I didn’t see it at the time.”
Trump said the US had “gotten some very unusual calls from people who don’t usually call us” asking for help with a ventilator. He did not explain in detail about certain countries that had requested machines.
U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Development Agency provide assistance to several countries to pay for ventilators.
The senior official said the government was balancing needs in the United States with requests from abroad to ensure that providing supplies to other countries “would not have an impact on the American people.”
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