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Trump 'looking to save lives' on ventilator shipments abroad

President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – Once short on ventilators but now awash with extras, the United States has delivered 1,271 ventilators to seven countries, with the latest shipment going to El Salvador.

A senior administration official said Tuesday that the ventilators had been sold and delivered to Australia, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Ventilators were donated to South Africa and El Salvador.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the Trump administration has committed to providing more than 15,000 ventilators to more than 60 countries.

Russia is on that list. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday the U.S. will send two planes with ventilators to Russia as a donation. According to Russian media, the shipment will include 200 breathing machines, 50 of which may be dispatched to Moscow on Wednesday.

Russia had sent a planeload of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the U.S. last month.

President Donald Trump was asked Tuesday if he sees ventilator shipments as a way to strengthen ties 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 only looking to save lives. Probably that's good diplomatically, but I'm not looking at that."

Trump said the U.S. had “gotten some very unusual calls from people that would not normally be calling us" asking for help with ventilators. He did not go into detail about specific countries that have requested the machines.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are providing assistance to some countries to pay for the ventilators.

The senior official said the administration was balancing needs inside the United States with requests from abroad to ensure that providing supplies to other nations “will in no way impact the American people."