01 May 2021: 'Shut down,' suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci on India's COVID-19 crisis
India needs to be immediately shut down for at least a few weeks in order to stop the cycle of coronavirus transmission, Dr. Anthony S Fauci, White House Chief Medical Adviser and the US' top pandemic expert, said in an interview.
He said the shutdown will help the country take some immediate, intermediate, and long-term measures to fight the catapulting pandemic crisis.
Fact: 'Lock down so you wind up having less spread'
"Lock down so that you wind up having less spread. No one likes to lock down the country...But if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak," Dr. Fauci told The Indian Express.
Immediate steps: Arrange supplies from every possible source, said Dr. Fauci
Terming the current situation in India "very difficult and desperate," Dr. Fauci said that India needs to set up a crisis group that can help the government organize basic medical facilities such as medical oxygen and hospital beds.
He said the country should get in touch with as many countries as possible so as to arrange the supplies it requires.
Intermediate steps: Quickly build temporary hospitals, he recommended
Citing China's example, Dr. Fauci said India should build temporary hospitals and emergency units to deal with the massive caseload.
"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," he said.
Long-term steps: In the long-term, vaccination is the key: Dr. Fauci
Dr. Fauci further suggested that in order to check the COVID-19 spread in the long-term, the Indian government must vaccinate its citizens as fast as it can.
Considering that only about 2% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, he said, "It is a very serious situation. You absolutely have to get more people vaccinated."
Situation in India: The COVID-19 situation in India continues to worsen
India has been gripped by a dreadful second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, reporting lakhs of new cases every single day for the past few weeks.
In the last 24 hours, the country logged 4,01,993 new infections - the highest-ever one-day surge for any country in the outbreak.
3,523 more fatalities took India's death toll past 2.11 lakh.
Causes: What caused the second wave of the pandemic in India?
Expert groups in India and around the world have blamed mutated strains of the virus, mass religious and political gatherings, a slow vaccination drive, as well as laxity among people in following coronavirus protocols, for the massive surge in infections.
Notably, several influential political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, held overcrowded campaign rallies ahead of Assembly elections in four states and one UT.