Lalit K Jha
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 the PTI correspondent in Washington:
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.
Q: So the two questions are how and in what way can the world help India right now. And secondly, what do you think are the steps India should take to deal with this situation on the basis of firefighting?
Fauci: 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 say. 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, thus sending rapid diagnostic tests. We send a million of them, as well as therapeutic products such as remdesivir. Plus, we’re working hand in hand with our CDC experts and India’s own experts in the area of vaccine deployment epidemiology surveillance, 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.
Q: What do you think India should take now to resolve this issue?
Fauci: Yeah, you know, I mentioned this at another outlet a few days ago, so I’ll 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 companies are ready to provide vaccines, in addition to vaccines. that India itself can do, however, get 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 think at least parts of India do, that you close the country on lockdown, because other countries, including for example, what China has done there ‘last year what Australia did in an outbreak, what New Zealand did, what other countries did, was completely lock down for a relatively limited period of time, you do not have to lock for six months, you can lock for a few weeks because when you lock, it is well known, with the experience of other countries this lock 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 didn’t go to India to see this myself. Recently, from what I see in the media, there is a drastic shortage of hospital beds, and people are being taken care of under makeshift arrangements, so there is no it might not be possible, with the help of your own soldiers, to get on your feet. hospitals than you would if allowed time, so that people who are sick and need a hospital bed have a hospital bed. So these are some of the things I would recommend them to do.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to talk about about India or something else for Indian public awareness?
Fauci: 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.