Dr Anthony S Fauci, chief medical advisor to the Biden Administration and one of the most prominent global authorities on the coronavirus pandemic, called for an “immediate” lockdown in order to put an end to the cycle of transmission in India. Speaking to the Indian Express, Fauci said that “India is in a very difficult and desperate situation… when you have a situation like that you’ve got to look at the absolute immediate.”

Fauci’s recommendations include putting in place a crisis group. “I would think that you’ve got to get some sort of a commission, or an emergency group to make a plan how to get oxygen; how do we get supplies; how do we get medications, and call — maybe with help from WHO — countries,” Fauci said.

The public health expert also stressed on the need to vaccinate people, but pointed out that the impact of vaccinations is not immediate, and is seen down the line. “vaccinating people right now, which you absolutely must, must do — it’s essential — is not going to alleviate the immediate problem of people needing oxygen, needing hospitalisation, needing medical care. That’s not going to fix it now because vaccinating people today, it’s going to be a few weeks before you alleviate the prevention of other people getting sick,” he said - outlining the difference between immediate and intermediate response.

“The intermediate — to 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. So you know where the enemy is, so I would make it almost like wartime because it’s an emergency,” Fauci said.

“And, finally, in the longer range, in a matter of a couple weeks, I would do whatever you can do to get vaccinated. To have a country like India, where two per cent of people are vaccinated, is a very serious situation.”

“This virus has shown us that if left to its own devices, it will explode in society,” Fauci pointed out, calling for an immediate “shutdown.”

“Well, one of the things you really need to do that to the extent that you can — is shut down temporarily the country, I think is important. If we want to time out and go back to what I said. There is the immediate, the intermediate, and the long range. I think the most important thing in the immediate is to get oxygen, get supplies, get medication, get PPE, those kinds of things but also, one of the immediate things to do is to essentially call a shutdown of the country.”