Getting people vaccinated is the only long-term solution to the current COVID-19 crisis in India, America's top public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday as he called for scaling up manufacturing of coronavirus vaccines both domestically and globally to fight the deadly pandemic.
"The endgame of this all...is going to be to get people vaccinated...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," Fauci, who is the Chief Medical Adviser to US President Joe Biden, told the ABC News in an interview.
"That's the reason why other countries need to chip in to be able to get either supplies to the Indians to make their own vaccines or to get vaccines donated. 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.
Responding to a question, Dr Fauci said that India needs to immediately build makeshift field hospitals like what China did a year ago.
"You've got to get that. You can't have people out in the street not having a hospital bed. The oxygen situation is something that was really critical. I mean, to have people not have oxygen is really tragic, what's going on over there," he said.
The 80-year-old physician and immunologist, who serves as the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said there is an immediate problem of hospital beds, oxygen, PPE and other supplies.
"Then there's the problem of looking forward to how are you going to shut this down, how are you going to turn it around, how are you going to break the chain of transmission?" he said, underlining the need for a countrywide lockdown to arrest the spread of the virus.
"Vaccines is one of them but there are other ways too, like shutting down the government. 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. And one of the ways to do that is to shut down," the top American doctor said.
Fauci, in an exclusive interview to PTI last week, had termed the situation in India "very desperate" and suggested that the government marshal all its resources, including the armed forces, to immediately build makeshift field hospitals, and urged other countries to help with not only materials but also personnel.
He called for a nationwide lockdown, not necessarily for six months but "for a few weeks" to break the "continuity and transmission of infection."
He also recommended mass vaccination to arrest the current spread of the deadly disease across India.
India is struggling with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 4,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days.
China reported the first COVID-19 case in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and since then the deadly disease has become a pandemic, affecting more than 157,789,300 people and over 3,285,200 deaths worldwide.