India is currently in “dire straits” due to an “incorrect assumption” that it was finished with the COVID-19 pandemic and for opening up prematurely, according to America’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci.
Notably, Dr Fauci is the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and is also the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.
During a hearing on Tuesday on the COVID-19 response, Fauci told Senators, “The reason that India is in such dire straits now is that they had an original surge and made the incorrect assumption that they were finished with it, and what happened, they opened up prematurely and wind up having a surge right now that we’re all very well aware of is extremely devastating.”
Referring to India’s incorrect assumption, Fauci said, “”One of the important things is do not ever underestimate the situation.”
“The second thing is preparedness with regard to public health, preparedness, which we, as a lesson learned for future pandemics, have to realise that we need to continue to build up our local public health infrastructure, which over the last decades we have let actually in many respects go into disarray, likely because of our successes in controlling so many diseases,” Fauci said.
Fauci said this during the hearing on COVID-19 response chaired by Senator Patty Murray. The Senator had asked Fauci to explain the lessons that the US can learn from the COVID-19 chaos in India.
Senator Murray said that the deadly outbreak in India is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen when this virus spreads unchecked, when it mutates into more contagious, more deadly strains and when it overwhelms healthcare systems.
Grim situation in India
India is currently battling the second wave of COVID-19 that has wreaked havoc across the country, with queues outside hospitals and crematoriums getting longer. People are struggling to get hospital beds, essential medicines and oxygen, with many dying on pavements or outside hospitals. There have been multiple reports of state governments hiding the real death figures.
According to the health ministry, over 2.54 lakh people have died so far due to the viral infection. Of it, over 4,200 people died on Tuesday—the highest death toll in a day since the pandemic began last year.
The situation has resulted in massive criticism for the Narendra Modi government on the global platform. India is also struggling at the vaccine front and not being able to manage the demand. Several states on a routine basis give SOS calls to the Centre over the shortage of vaccines. While the Centre has opened vaccination for all above 18 years, there are not enough vaccines to cater to the demand.
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