We are entering age of pandemics, health expert tells Rahul Gandhi

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday interacted with two renowned healthcare experts, Prof Ashish Jha of Harvard Global Health Institute and Johan Giesecke, former Chief Scientist of European Centre. This was a part of his ongoing meetings with well-known experts across fields, the first two being with former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee.

During the course of his interaction, Rahul enquired about the way to phase out the ongoing lockdown and if there were any benefits of extending it. Prof Jha first explained the need to arm oneself with testing kits, isolation wards and mental preparedness, and said that the lockdown was needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. “We are entering the age of large pandemics, this is not the last pandemic we are seeing,” Prof Jha asserted.

Coming to the phasing out front, he emphasised on the need to act in a phased manner along with continuous monitoring of the numbers. He warned the country to be prepared for at least 12-16 more months and stressed on the need to build economy in consonance with the ongoing pandemic. Prof Giesecke, on the other hand, talked about the perils of a very strict lockdown and said that it could also result in death of people.

He said that since studies show that Covid-19 is a mild disease that is fatal to only 1% of the population it affects, nations should go soft on the lockdown. He also suggested a phased manner of re-opening the country and said that a trial period of two weeks should be carried out to monitor the results. The Congress leader also agreed with Prof Jha on the need for more extensive testing along with exhaustive surveillance and contact tracing.

While interacting with both the experts, Rahul too answered many questions put from the other side. While replying on the Indian perspective, he said that states should give more powers to the people and all states should have their own strategies to fight this problem.

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