Anthony Fauci, the US' top epidemiologist and one of the leading global voices on the coronavirus pandemic, suggested India must impose a complete lockdown for a few weeks as an immediate step to contain the surging infections which have brought the country's healthcare system to its knees. "Well, one of the things you really need to do, to the extent that you can, is shut down temporarily the country, I think it is important. India is in a very difficult and desperate situation. So when you have a situation like that you've got to look at the absolute immediate," Fauci told the Indian Express.
Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration and one of the most trusted people to speak on the Covid-19 pandemic, said it is not necessary to shut down a country for six months, instead, it can be done for few weeks and it will still end the cycle of transmission. "Literally, lockdown so that you wind up having less spread. No one likes to lock down the country. Well, that's a problem when you do it for six months. It can have a significant impact on the Covid-19 dynamics," he added.
Fauci also cited China as an example and said that the country closed all its establishment last year when the Covid-19 cases were exploding.
The American physician-scientist also suggested that India should put together a group of experts that would meet and get things organised to fight the pandemic. "I heard from some of the people in the street bringing their mothers and their fathers and their sisters and their brothers searching for oxygen. They seem to think there really was not any organisation, any central organisation," Fauci said.
"I would think that you've got to get some sort of a commission, or an emergency group to make a plan how to get oxygen; how do we get supplies; how do we get medications, and call—maybe with help from WHO—countries," Fauci also said during the interview with the newspaper. Fauci is the chief medical adviser to the Biden administration and is one of the most trusted people to speak on the Covid-19 pandemic.
In another key step, Fauci suggested that India should immediately get supplies of oxygen, medication. "I think the most important thing in the immediate is to get oxygen, get supplies, get medication, get PPE, those kinds of things but also, one of the immediate things to do is to essentially call a shutdown of the country," Fauci said.
Fauci also said that the victory over Covid-19 was "declared maybe too prematurely" in India. He did not name anyone while making the statement. Fauci also suggested that the country should build temporary hospitals like "they put up these field hospitals that they built during war" quickly. "You should think of this, in some respects, like a war. The enemy is the virus. So you know where the enemy is, so I would make it almost like wartime because it's an emergency," he said.
Underlining that vaccination plays a crucial role in handling the Covid-19 situation, Fauci said if India, a country of 1.4 billion people, has fully vaccinated only two per cent of its total population, then it has a very long way to go. "This is what I heard. I don't know if that's accurate but that's what I'm hearing (2% is the number of those who have got both doses, 11% have got at least one dose). And, if that's the case, you have a long way to go if you really want to protect the people in India," Fauci was quoted as saying in the report.
"I would leave no stone unturned in getting as many companies as you possibly can to be able to make a contractual arrangement to get vaccines. 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," Fauci added.
India is reeling under the second and deadlier wave of the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, the number of daily coronavirus cases in India crossed the 400,000 mark for the first time as the country struggled to contain the pandemic. As of Saturday morning, the country's tally stands at 19,164,969 and the death toll has gone up to 211,853.