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Anthony Fauci: ‘Disruption in economy by lockdown can be catastrophic’

India is on a national lockdown for three weeks till April 14, while in the US, 37 states have given orders or directives to stay at home.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: April 3, 2020 11:42:27 am
india coronavirus, india lockdown, india lockdown effects, Anthony Fauci on coronavirus lockdown, impact of lockdown in india, coronavirus impact india, coronavirus world impact Anthony Fauci, director of the US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Courtesy: NIAID)

The man leading the US administration’s fight against COVID-19 on Thursday cautioned that there had been “cogent concerns” among public health experts that lockdowns can cause disruption in the economy and society which can be “catastrophic”.

India is on a national lockdown for three weeks till April 14, while in the US, 37 states have given orders or directives to stay at home.

Fauci, the director of the US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has worked with six presidents, and has declined multiple requests to lead his agency’s parent organisation, the National Institutes of Health. He has led federal efforts to combat diseases caused by emerging viruses, including HIV, SARS, the 2009 swine flu pandemic, MERS and Ebola.

He has emerged as the face of the Donald Trump administration’s fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 3,900 lives in the US and has infected more than 1.8 lakh people.

In a conversation with The New York Times podcast, Daily, Fauci said, “I had a very interesting conversation just this morning, with colleagues from literally all over the world on weekly telephone conference call that WHO sponsors.

“And it was interesting to me, that some of the most cogent concerns of people from different countries. was that, we need to make sure (that) we keep our eye on the balance of, if you’re too stringent in things like lockdowns and keeping people under wraps for a long period of time, you may have the unintended consequences of triggering – from an economic and societal standpoint – such a disruption that to get things like poverty and health issues, unrelated to the coronavirus, and it was really a serious concern,” Fauci said.

When asked what are the worst case scenarios for unintended costs, Fauci said, “Well, so many people need medications, many people are dependent on supply chains for nutrition, for food, that they might starve, that people who have illnesses… if you dramatically interrupt that to the point where it no longer exists, the disruption of society can be really quite catastrophic.

“I mean that’s the one of the things you want to avoid and that’s one of the pushbacks you have, when you have people who say we really need to lock down everything and lock it down indefinitely,” he said.

Fauci further said, “You might get an extra mile or two out of suppressing the virus, then but you got to make sure that you look at what the ultimate issue, is I’ve always been one that leans much more heavily, that it’s the public health. That’s the most important thing.”

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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