Washington: Calling the situation in India “very desperate”, leading US public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci suggested that the government muster all its resources, including the armed forces, to immediately build makeshift field hospitals, and urged other countries to help not only with materials, but also with personnel.
Here is the transcript of an exclusive interview with Dr Fauci, by PTI Washington correspondent Lalit K Jha:
Q: Can you start by assessing the current situation in India?
Fauci: I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that the situation in India is extremely serious. I mean the level of infection they currently have is, it’s really enough. I would say. Let me find the right word so that we are not taken out of context. This is something that is of the highest degree in the series, when there are so many infected people and the lack of ability to take care of everyone.
When you have hospital bed shortages, oxygen shortages, and supply shortages it really becomes a very desperate situation, which is why we think it is important for the rest of the world to help, as far as where it can, and that India itself can do things that I think could address this very emerging situation.
So the two questions are how and in what way can the world help India right now. And second, what do you think are the steps India should take to address the situation?
Well, I think the world can help by providing India with materials, and maybe even personnel, but certainly materials that they need to address it adequately, for example, as you know. The United States is providing oxygen support with an initial delivery of more than 1,000 oxygen cylinders, as well as oxygen concentrators and oxygen generation units.
The United States is also receiving personal protective equipment, as well as supplies to help Indians be able to make vaccines themselves, which would be needed in rural areas, sending rapid diagnostic tests. We send a million of them, as well as therapeutic products, like the drug Remdesivir.
And besides, we work hand in hand with our CDC (Central Disease Control) experts and India’s own experts in the field of epidemiological surveillance vaccine deployment, and things like that …
When there are emergencies in other countries. And, I think considering that India is currently under such terrible stress with the scale of the epidemic, the rest of the world should step up to help them, like what the United States is doing. I forgot, what was another question?
What do you think India should take now to resolve this issue?
Yes, you know, I had mentioned this at another outlet a few days ago, so I will repeat it for you. I mean there are some things that cannot be done immediately. There are things that can be done on an intermediate basis and then there is the long term thing.
First of all, from now on, they should start vaccinating as many people as possible. With vaccines that they are developing themselves in India, as well as vaccine supplies that they may be able to source from other suppliers, be it the United States, Russia, whatever the country. , whenever businesses want.
to provide vaccines, in addition to the vaccines that India itself can manufacture, however, to have someone vaccinated.
Now, (this) does not solve today’s problem. It helps prevent a problem several weeks from now, so it becomes part of the middle and long term fix, but the immediate fix right now is you need to do it, and I know the India is already doing this, so I’m not telling you something that you weren’t already doing a few days ago.
I have recommended, and I believe at least parts of India are doing so, that you close the country on lockdown, because other countries, including for example what China did the last year, what Australia did in an outbreak, what New Zealand is doing, what other countries have done, is completely lock down for a relatively limited period of time, you don’t you don’t have to lock down for six months you can lock out for a few weeks because when you lock it is well known with the experience of other countries that lock out definitely interferes with the dynamics of the viral epidemic. And you could interfere with the continuity and transmission of the infection. This is the first thing.
The second thing is that you will remember again last year when China had a very serious problem. They mobilized their resources very, very quickly, built new hospitals, to be able to take care of all the people who needed hospitalization. And, although I haven’t been to India to see this myself, recently from what I’m seeing in the media there is a drastic shortage of hospital beds, and people are being taken care of. in makeshift arrangements, so that wouldn’t be possible. , perhaps, with the help of your own military, to set up field hospitals that you would if given time, so that people who are sick and need a hospital bed have a hospital bed. So these are some of the
things that I would recommend them to do.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about about India or something else for Indian public awareness?
No, I think it’s important that there is a lot of solidarity, and people in the rest of the world, certainly those of us in the United States, since we have such a close relationship with India. We are sorry that India is going through this very, very difficult time.