Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top pandemic expert and White House chief medical adviser, on Friday said that a prescribed number of measures India should immediately take to tackle the second wave of COVID-19 in a war footing.
Dr. Fauci laid down three primary recommendations which included the immediate imposition of lockdown for a couple of weeks and secondly, they should set up emergency units as hospitals like China, having central organization.
Along with the suggestions on how to tackle the pandemic, Dr. Fauci also mentioned that that victory against the coronavirus was declared by the Indian government “too prematurely”.
In a recent interview with the Indian Express, Dr. Fauci, after looking at the visuals of the grave Covid crisis in India on CNN, said that the country is in a “difficult and desperate situation”.
“One of the things you really need to do that to the extent that you can — is shut down temporarily the country, I think is important. If we want to time out and go back to what I said. There is the immediate, the intermediate, and the long-range. 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,” he said.
“We know that when China had this big explosion a year ago, they completely shut down. And if you shut down, you don’t have to shut down for six months. You can shut down temporarily to put an end to the cycle of transmission. So one of the things to be considered is to temporarily shut down. Literally, lockdown so that you wind up having less spread,” he said.
“One of the things that you can do to prevent this prolonging — you’ve got to look at it in multiple different phases. For example, vaccinating people right now, which you absolutely must, must do — it’s essential — is not going to alleviate the immediate problem of people needing oxygen, needing hospitalization, needing medical care. That’s not going to fix it now because vaccinating people today, it’s going to be a few weeks before you alleviate the prevention of other people getting sick,” he said.
Urging the world to come together to India’s rescue, Dr. 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. Like the USA, other countries should also come in and help India right now because India has been very generous in the past crises in helping other countries. Now is the time for other countries to try to alleviate the immediate problem that India has. That’s the first thing.”
“Get hospitals built quickly. I mean really quickly, within a matter of — you know, they put up these field hospitals that they built during the war. 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. And, finally, in the longer range, in a matter of a couple of weeks, I would do whatever you can do to get vaccinated. To have a country like India, where two percent of people are vaccinated, is a very serious situation. You absolutely have to get more people vaccinated.”
Dr. Fauci asked the PM Modi-led Union government to look at the “absolute immediate problem, get the intermediate things going, and then take a look at the longer-range in regards to vaccines.”
When asked if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US national health protection agency) has been asked to help in genome sequencing of the Indian variants, Dr. Fauci said, “Well, we absolutely need to study it intensively to find out if the vaccines that are being used are inducing a response that would be protective against this variant. We heard some preliminary announcements that the vaccine appeared to be okay. But there are other announcements that were saying we aren’t so sure about that.”
“So what I think needs to be done very, very quickly is to get specimens and material outside of India and sent to the CDC of the United States, the NIH (National Institute of Health) of the United States, to the Wellcome Trust in the UK. There are a lot of groups that would like very much to help out and they can help out by doing the sequencing and the surveillance and the determination if the virus is, in fact, sensitive to the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine,” he said.
On ways to get the public interest served on the vaccination front, Dr. Fauci said, “You’ve got to get supplies. You’ve got to make contractual arrangements with the 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.”
He also added that to get vaccines from China and Russia is “absolutely” the route to take in the situation