‘Victory Declared Prematurely’: Dr Fauci on India’s 2nd COVID Wave
Dr Fauci is Chief Medical Advisor to the Biden administration and has spearheaded the US response to the pandemic.
“The victory was declared maybe too prematurely,” said Dr Anthony S Fauci, one of the most trusted global voices on COVID, on India’s second wave in an interview with The Indian Express on Saturday, 1 May.
Dr Fauci is chief medical advisor to the Biden administration and has spearheaded the US administration’s response to the COVID pandemic.
“We are very pained to see India suffering so much. And that’s the reason why the rest of the world really needs to chip in and help. But to the people of India, I’ll say, hang together. Everybody is in this together. And just as I said in the Senate hearing, it will end. We will get back to a normal. There is suffering now but I guarantee that we will get it back to normal. Hang in there, help each other. Take care of each other and things will get back to normal,” said Dr Fauci,
In his interview with The Indian Express, Dr Fauci spoke regarding the second wave in India, the steps the Centre should take immediately to curb the spread and India’s current approach for vaccinations.
Fauci on Early Signs of COVID Second Wave in India
When asked if there were early signs of a second wave in India, he stated that “the virus has shown us that if left to its own devices, it will explode in society”.
“It happened to us in the US. You might recall, I am speaking to you as an American. But, in fact, the United States, for a while, was the worst-hit country in the world and the United States is the richest country. We were supposedly the best prepared and we got hit very badly. So you know, the reason is that the virus doesn’t care how rich you are. Or how advanced or developed you are. If you don’t respect its ability to cause serious damage, you are going to get into trouble,” said Dr Fauci.
Fauci on What Steps India Can Take On Second Wave
Dr Fauci suggested a multiple phase plan as a suggestion for India to curb the second wave of the pandemic.
“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 hospitalisation, 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.”Dr Anthony S Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the Joe Biden Administration
Dr Fauci also suggested that the Indian government should form a commission or an emergency group to cater to the rise in demand for medical oxygen and other supplies in collaboration with WHO countries.
“But we’ve got to get other countries to come in and help India right now because India has been very generous in the past criseses in helping other countries. Now is the time for other countries to try and alleviate the immediate problem that India has. That’s the first thing,” he said in the interview.
Dr Fauci also recommended mobilising different parts of the government, especially military and build hospitals quickly.
“Can the military come in and help? I mean, you can immediately get military help the way we, in the United States, have used our National Guard to help us distribute the vaccination,” he said.
“I think it should at least be seriously considered. The intermediate — to get hospitals built quickly. I mean really quickly, within a matter of — you know, they put up these field hospitals that they built during 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,” he said.
Fauci on India’s COVID Vaccination Drive
In the interview, Dr Facui recommended that India needs to immediately reach out to vaccination manufacturers around the world for contractual agreements to cater to India’s 1.4 billion population.
He also recommended that India should take the route of reaching out to other countries like China and Russia for their vaccinations to expand the vaccine basket.
“You only have two per cent of your people vaccinated. 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. 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,” he said.
Should India Consider a Lockdown
In the interview, Dr Fauci emphatically recommended that the Indian government should consider a temporary lockdown.
“Well, one of the things you really need to do that to the extent that you can — is that the country shuts down temporarily, 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.
“No one likes to lockdown the country. Well, that’s a problem when you do it for six months. But if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak,” he added.
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