Lockdown is not the ultimate goal: Harvard Professor

Lockdown is not the ultimate goal: Harvard Professor

Agency News

New Delhi, May 27 : Global public healthcare expert and Harvard Professor Ashish Jha on Wednesday termed Lockdown as an important step in the battle against Novel Coronavirus, which was here to stay. However, he chipped in to say that Lockdown was not the ultimate goal, but just a step in the right direction.

Interacting with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi over the idea of a lockdown, Dr Jha said, 'The reason to do the lockdown is that you are trying to slow down the spread of the virus. So, the virus is a new one. Humanity has not seen this before. That means all of us are are susceptible population. Left unchecked, the virus will grow exponentially. 'There are two choices - you can do really vigorous testing, tracing and isolation. But if you can't do that, then you have to lock everything down. Can you slow the virus down from a lockdown? Of course you can. But of course, it has very substantial economic repercussions. 'What are you using that time to do? How do you prepare for releasing the lockdown? Lockdown buys you time, but lockdown is not the goal in itself.

You want to use that time to prepare a really fabulous testing, tracing, isolation infrastructure. You want to use that time to communicate with people,' he added.

Stating that life will be very different when the lockdown ends, Dr Jha said, 'This is not about going back to what life was like last May or June. That life over the next 6-12-18 months is going to look very different. Referring to some migrant labourers, who were returning home during lockdown, the Congress leader further asked Dr Jha about the medical needs of the hour and testing as a strategy. 'You should be testing anybody with any kind of symptoms. You won't pick up everyone, because there are people without symptoms. We think that about 20 percent have no symptoms throughout their entire disease, and another 20-25 percent people spread the disease before they have any symptoms. So, you should be testing everybody with symptoms,' Dr Jha responded.

Dr Jha, who is the Professor of Global Health, TH Chan School of Public Health and Director Harvard Global Health institute and recently appointed Dean of School of Public Health, Brown University, further said that testing will help a lot. 'If you could test at scale, you could test everybody and then you are much safer,' he added. Mr Gandhi also held interaction with epidemiologist Professor Johan Geisecke of Karolinska Institute, Sweden, on COVID-19 crisis and subsequent economic crisis.

According to Prof Geisecke, 'I think it will take months to really ease out the lockdown. But, you must do one restriction at a time and see what happens.' The dialogue was part of Mr Gandhi’s interaction with global experts on health issues and economy and he had held meetings with Nobel laureate Prof Abhijit Banerjee and former Reserve Bank Governor Dr Raghuram Rajan. (UNI)