Shut down India for a few weeks: US chief medical adviser

Vaccinating people right now, which is essential, is not going to alleviate the immediate problem of people needing oxygen, hospitalisation and medical care, Dr Fauci says

Dr Fauci said that, as a public health official, he did not want to get involved in 'any sort of criticism of how India has handled the situation'

India should go for a complete lockdown for a few weeks immediately to check the spread of COVID-19, Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the Joe Biden Administration who has worked with seven US presidents, has said.

Vaccinating people right now, which is essential, is not going to alleviate the immediate problem of people needing oxygen, hospitalisation and medical care, Dr Fauci said on Friday.

“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 told The Indian Express in an exclusive interview.

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Dr Fauci said that, as a public health official, he did not want to get involved in “any sort of criticism of how India has handled the situation, because then it becomes a political issue.

“… one of the things you really need to do, to the extent that you can, is shut down temporarily the country, I think is important,” he said.

“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 told the newspaper.

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“Literally, lock down 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. But just for a few weeks of lockdown could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak,” he added.

He said when China had a big explosion of coronavirus cases a year ago, they completely shut down.

Dr Fauci said India must look at what it can do in phases.

“So take care of the people right now. 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.

“Then the intermediate. I think you need — what the Chinese did when they had a crisis, you might recall, literally, within a few days to weeks they built these emergency units that served as hospitals to take care of people. It was an accomplishment that everybody marvelled at. It just seems to me, what I was viewing on television, what people were looking for a desperate need for hospital and care. That’s the first thing.

“And, finally, in the longer range, in a matter of a couple weeks, I would do whatever you can do to get vaccinated. To have a country like India, where two per cent of people are vaccinated, is a very serious situation. You absolutely have to get more people vaccinated.”

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