How India can contain coronavirus - Asia Times
India should focus on controlling the spread of Covid-19 by imposing focused lockdowns in hotspots that threaten to negate the country’s containment successes, Dr Shiv Pillai, director of the Harvard Immunology Graduate Program at Harvard Medical School, told Asia Times in a telephone interview. Over a longer time frame, India’s best hope of controlling the runaway spread of the deadly virus would be injecting a significant number of citizens with the vaccines currently being tested in various countries. Dr Pillai expects approvals for vaccines to come before the end of the year.
“It will be a silver bullet compared with what we have now,’’ he said from Cambridge, Massachusetts. “India is a great country to make vaccines. We have the two best vaccine-making companies in the world – Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute. They are also cost-effective.’’
India has numerous pockets of high density across its 1.38 billion population, which makes it tough to contain Covid-19. Widespread lockdown fatigue and a lack of discipline regarding wearing masks, hand hygiene and social distancing is negating the tireless efforts of health workers and administrators in several parts of the country.“India is not Sweden, where you can tell people to stay apart. People have to go out, people have to work. Vaccination is the only answer,” said Pillai. “Fortunately, the deaths are not as dramatically high as elsewhere. Many [0f] the sick are recovering, including older people.’’Countrywide lockdowns had a severe impact on the economy, with the June quarter reporting a 23.9% contraction in gross domestic product. More than a hundred million lost their jobs and many workers had no option but to head back to their villages, inadvertently spreading the virus across the hinterland.
India, which has 5.6 million cases, the second-highest number after the United States (7 million), has a fatality rate of around 89,000, much lower than than the US’s 204,000. Brazil and Mexico have recorded 137,000 and 73,700 fatalities from 4.56 million and 700,000 cases, respectively.