The big dilemma: saving lives vs. saving livelihoods

Lifting the blockade imposed to control the spread of Covid-19 in India must be handled with care, although social distancing will still be necessary in some way, experts agreed at the International Online Conference on Covid-19, organized on Thursday.

The challenge was determining what should be done once the country emerged from the blockade, experts said. They felt that the revival of India's economy could not be completely ignored, viewing it as a dilemma between saving lives and saving livelihoods.

Lock only until absolutely necessary

David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization at Covid-19, said: “No country wants to remain locked up for longer than is absolutely necessary. Therefore, the best thing to do now is to develop community-level capacity for detection and isolation of positive cases. He added that it was not easy to develop a coronavirus vaccine and even more difficult to develop enough vaccines to immunize everyone in the short term. Hopefully, we could have a vaccine within 18 months, Nabarro said.

There is no medical reason to extend the lock except at critical points

Concerned about the economic impact of the blockade and how the country can gradually eliminate it, Dr. Narayana Hospitals president proposed that the hotspots could remain sealed, while other areas gradually opened.

We can say that we have reduced the mortality rate by 50% in India due to the early closure, which did not happen in many other countries. In the future, we must gradually lift the blockade and have an unconventional exit strategy. There appears to be no medical reason to continue the block except at critical points. We proposed in Karnataka that public transportation should start, but at 50% of its capacity, and stores should be open from morning until late at night so that people do not crowd, said Dr. Shetty.

The next challenge is to immunize the country from critical points

The Dr., New Delhi director, said the next few weeks would continue to be testing, although the infection chart may not rise sharply due to the timely closure. He felt that more data was needed to decide whether the lock should continue or not.

Dr. Guleria said the new challenge would be to prevent the spread of the infection from critical points to other areas. The coronavirus battle can now be won not in hospitals, but in the community, said the AIIMS director, while emphasizing that containing Covid-19 is only possible through social distancing and regular handwashing.

Four imperatives for the coming days.

Dr. Dinesh Arora, IAS, former Deputy Executive Director of the National Health Agency and current Sommer academic at Johns Hopkins University The United States listed four strategies for a safer tomorrow: “Protect high-risk groups, such as the population over 65 and health workers; continue blocking at critical points, but gradually open the economy; increase testing by leveraging the private sector; use technology for surveillance.

To this, Professor Ashish Kumar Jha, director of the Harvard Institute of Global Health, USA. The US added two more: social distancing and proof of the isolation quarantine measure. “India needs to substantially increase testing and isolation to prevent the spread. You also need to look at the economic cost and focus on a short and specific closure, said Jha.

China and Italy erred

Professor Wenjuan Zhang, director of the OP-Jindal Global University India-China Studies Center, said that China did not initially realize the magnitude of the crisis initially, but once it entered Stage II transmission, the government closed a full shutdown to limit its spread. . Italy, according to Dr. Beatrice Galleli of the University of Bologna, at first did not take the threat seriously. We think the problem existed in the Far East and would never reach the West. The government was also too cautious with the economic consequences of a total blockade, he said.

How to expand the medical safety net

Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice President of, said that an important learning for India was the imminent need to reduce the cost of medical education in the country and attract talents to India for health care research. “We have also realized that the informal sector must have social and medical safety nets. We should have resources available in the future so we don't have to choose between saving lives and saving livelihoods again, said Dr. Kumar.