India Should ‘Shut Down’ to Fight Covid Surge, Says Top U.S. Expert Anthony Fauci
Stranded Indian migrant workers wait to board a special train at a railway station during a lockdown imposed by the state government as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus in Chennai on May 10, 2021. The top U.S. expert on Covid-19, Anthony Fauci, told a TV interviewer countries should give India resources to make vaccines. (AFP via Getty Images)
NEW YORK – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. expert on Covid-19, has called on countries to provide India with resources to make its own vaccines or donate vaccines.
“India is the largest vaccine-producing country in the world. They’ve got to get their resources – not only from within but also from without and that’s the reason why other countries need to chip in to be able to get either supplies for the Indians to make their own vaccines or to get vaccines donated,” he told a TV interviewer May 9.
“One of the ways to do that is to have the big companies that have the capability of making vaccines to really scale up in a great way to get literally hundreds of millions of doses to be able to get to them,” he said.
He said that the “endgame” in fighting the pandemic is vaccinating everyone.
At the same time, he said that all of India should “shut down,” as some states have done.
Vaccines are one of the ways of “breaking the transmission,” but others “like shutting down the government” should be undertaken, Fauci said.
“I have advised them in the past that you really need to do that. You’ve got to shut down. I believe several of the Indian states have already done that but you need to break the chain of transmission,” he said.
Fauci made the observations in an interview on ABC TV with George Stephanopoulos, who was former President Bill Clinton’s spokesperson.
Fauci said that a priority for India should be to set up field hospitals like China had done.
“They have really got to get hospital beds and do really what the Chinese did way back a year or so ago, where you essentially build up with – the equivalent of field hospitals. You’ve got to get that. You can’t have people out in the street not having a hospital bed,” he said.
In fact, during the Covid crisis last year, tents were also set up in New York’s Central Park to treat those who could not find hospital beds and convention centers and sports venues were also made into emergency medical facilities.
Fauci called the oxygen shortages in India “really tragic.”
President Joe Biden has ordered the supply of vaccine manufacturing equipment and ingredients to India along with oxygen and devices for making the gas and medications to treat Covid-19. The total Covid-19 aid package for India is expected to run to $100 million, according to his spokesperson Jen Psaki.
Biden’s administration has also agreed to a request made by India and South Africa to the World Trade Organization to waive the intellectual property rights. However, it faces opposition from other countries, including Germany and Switzerland, blocking WTO approval.
Fauci dismissed suggestions that dropping the patent rights to allow others to make the vaccines would hamper the manufacture by companies now making them.
“I don’t think that’s the case,” he said. “They can scale up. You know, they’ve done an extraordinary amount. You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve really just really done something that is really quite impressive in the way they’ve gotten their vaccine supply up and out for the rest of the world.”
Waiving patents won’t interfere with that now, he said.