On Friday, 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.
"This ceremony is a reflection of the generosity of the American people and the great support by our Ally, the United States," said Dr. John Manza, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Operations. "These ventilators will be provided to Allies that need them if a second wave hits us." Dr. Manza expressed his appreciation to Italy for hosting the NATO stockpile: "The COVID pandemic is a top-priority for us; we are maintaining our deterrence and defence posture to prevent the health crisis from becoming a security crisis; NATO Allies remain committed to each other, no matter what the threat is."
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."