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Months after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout first started, officials have begun to breathe a collective sigh of relief as infection rates, hospitalization, and deaths continue to drop. And while these lower figures have made officials comfortable easing or removing local health precautions in some areas, some places are still struggling with surging case numbers. In fact, one place has chief White House COVID adviser, Anthony Fauci, MD, so concerned that he believes it needs to lock down again immediately. Read on to see which area he thinks needs to roll back its reopening.
Fauci is advising India to lock down once again to stop the current COVID surge there.
During an appearance on ABC's This Week on May 9, Fauci was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about how to tackle the current outbreak in India, which has seen an average of more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases reported daily over the past week. Fauci replied by saying that he had been in touch with Indian officials and advised them to lock the country back down to stop the spread of the virus.
"You've got to shut down," he explained. "I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission, and one of the ways to do that is to shut down."
Fauci says a shorter lockdown can help "break the chain of transmission."
During a separate interview with CNN affiliate CNN News18 on May 7, Fauci argued that reviving the lockdown in India—even if only briefly—would be the only way to "get ahead of the trajectory of the outbreak."
"I don't mean shutting down for six months," he clarified. "You just need to break the chain of transmission. And one can do that by shutting down to the extent possible for two, three weeks, four weeks. And then, as soon as the cases start coming down and you vaccinate more people, then you can get ahead of the trajectory of the outbreak."
Some parts of India have already been under lockdown for weeks.
According to data compiled by CNN, at least 24 of India's 36 states and union territories are once again under full COVID-19 lockdowns due to the national surge. This includes the capital city of New Delhi, which has been under strict stay-at-home orders for four weeks.
But both Indian and international experts have called for a national effort to help control the spread of the virus. On May 8, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) saying on May 8 that a "complete, well-planned, pre-announced national lockdown" lasting for 10 to 15 days was in order.
Increasing vaccinations will ultimately end the pandemic and stop future outbreaks.
But besides the need of stay-at-home orders to remove the current strain on hospital beds throughout the country, Fauci also argued that increasing vaccinations would ultimately be the best way to stop the pandemic altogether. According to data from the Indian government, just over 34.8 million people—or about 2.5 percent of the total population— are currently fully immunized against COVID-19, Reuters reports.
"The endgame of this all, George, is going to be to get people vaccinated," Fauci said, bringing up a point made earlier in the interview that "India is the largest vaccine-producing country in the world. They've got to get their resources, not only from within, but also from without."
Fauci emphasized: "That's the reason why other countries need to chip in to be able to get either supplies to the Indians to make their own vaccines or to get vaccines donated."