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'Centre acted in haste on Covid 1.0'

Modi-led sarkar declared victory over Covid-19 as people, govt believed in herd immunity; And it was a premature declaration: Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, PHFI

Dr K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India

 Dr K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India

New Delhi With number of Covid cases touching 4,00,000 cases a day in India on Monday, Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India, observes that rural, tribal areas that were left largely untouched in the first wave have now been affected owing to the recent public gatherings, election rallies, campaigning, local body and Assembly elections. "The rural areas are no longer untouched. We really have to worry about Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and the villages," Dr Reddy told Bizz Buzz in an exclusive interview. Dr Reddy said that India's premature declaration of victory over the deadly virus and other Covid-related myths were responsible for the outbreak and unprecedented spike in Covid-infected cases and deaths.

"See we declared victory prematurely in January and that is partly because even some scientist also said that 90 crores of Indian have been infected, claimant of heard immunity by February and genetic factors protecting us (Indians). So, with all these theories, government and people will hear what they want to hear. Industrialists want to open up the economy because they suffered, the Indian economy had gone into slump. Small traders want to get back to work, ordinary man wants to get back to regular life, and travel, sportsman want to play, politicians want to conduct big rallies. So, everybody took the advice that we have attained her immunity because it suited them," Dr Reddy said.

Dr Reddy stated that government leaders should have been offered better advice by its nodal agencies and scientist to tackle the situation. "It is upto the government agencies and scientists to give the right advice to government leaders, but somehow failures took place. We proceeded on the ground that the second wave won't take place.

Our vaccination schedule, permission to vaccine, everything proceeded in a very graduated slow-paced manner. But once the second wave descended on us with serosity, it was decided that we must get more vaccines from abroad, we must license foreign approved vaccines." Dr Reddy also said that India should have taken a lesson from other countries, since other developed nations too faced similar surge in Covid cases. In a media interview on January 12, 2021, Dr Reddy did caution that there would be a second wave. When asked on India's lack of preparedness against Covid second wave, Dr. Reddy said that when the entire world went through similar situation, India shouldn't have declared victory. In the month of March, Union Minister of Health Dr Harsh Vardhan declared victory over Covid. However, by March 25, India had reported more than 53,000 cases and 251 deaths.

As situation worsened in April, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to the health minister suggesting scaling up vaccination efforts, giving flexibility to State governments in deciding who needed to be vaccinated and expanding the number of vaccine producers by invoking compulsory licensing.

Dr Reddy also recommended that states that don't have sufficient vaccines to start with the fourth phase of immunization drive, i.e. Covid vaccination for age group 18 years and above, 45 years and above age group should continue to be prioritized and gradually lower the age groups. On Covid transmission and contraction, the PHFI President said: "Covid infection can be more easily transmitted in closed spaces as aerosols can form in poorly ventilated rooms or in large crows standing together for long time. In closed spaces, closed rooms, aerosols can go from room to room. So, it's not like when you go to the park the virus is floating in the air. One should continue to wear masks in outdoor and indoor, wear double masks."

Archana Rao
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