Dr Anthony S Fauci, White House chief medical advisor and one of the most trusted global voices on Covid -19, suggested that India should go for “immediate” shutdown, though not for six months but for a couple of weeks as it can put an end to the cycle of virus transmission in the country.
He prescribed a slew of measures that India should implement to check the second wave of Covid-19. Dr Fauci said that the authorities should take up “immediate”, “intermediate” and long-term steps to tackle the pandemic.
He said that the country should impose immediate lockdown for a couple of weeks, set up temporary hospitals like China, oxygen plants on a war-footing and also have a central commission to monitor the situation constantly.
In an exclusive interview with a national English daily, he said that after looking at the visuals of Covid crisis in India on CNN, he could understand the country was in a “difficult and desperate situation”.
He felt that the Indian government declared victory over the pandemic “too prematurely”.
He said that the most important thing now is to vaccinate the people. It will not alleviate the problem as patients will still need oxygen, hospitalisation and medical care. He said that this step would not fix the problem now as it would take a few weeks to prevent the people from falling sick.
Having worked with 7 US presidents, the America’s top pandemic expert said that other countries should come together to the rescue of India just as his country. He suggested that India should have “some sort of a commission or an emergency group” to make a plan on how to get oxygen, get medications or seek help from the WHO.
He said that India should follow what the Chinese did and “build emergency units that served as hospitals” to take care of people.
The Centre can mobilise different groups of government, like the military, for help just as we, in the US, used our National Guard to help us distribute the vaccinations, he reminded.
On the vaccination front, Dr Fauci said, “You’ve got to get supplies. You’ve got to make contractual arrangements with various companies that are out there in the world. There are many companies that now have vaccines. I think you have to negotiate with them to try and get a commitment. India is what, 1.4 billion people? You have a lot of vaccines that you need to get, and I would go to multiple different companies and try to get contractual arrangements so that you can get vaccines as quickly as you possibly can.”
Getting vaccines from Russia and China is “absolutely” the route to take in such a situation, he pointed out.
“To have a country like India, where only two per cent of people are vaccinated, is a very serious situation. And also, India is the largest vaccine-producing country in the world. That’s the thing — you should rev up your own capabilities to make vaccines.”
On Wednesday, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine was found to neutralise 617 variants of the deadly Coronavirus.
The 80-year-old physician-scientist and immunologist said vaccination could be a very, very important antidote to the spread of the virus.