Lessons from India surge? Don't underestimate situation - Fauci

"Don't ever underestimate the situation, you know, the reason that India is in such dire straits now is that they had an original surge and made the incorrect assumption that they were finished with it and what happened, the opened up prematurely and wind up having a surge right now that we are all well aware is extremely devastating," Fauci said.

India's The seven-day average of daily infections hit a record 390,995 on Tuesday, with 3,876 deaths, according to the health ministry.

Official COVID-19 deaths, which experts say are almost certainly under-reported, stand at just under a quarter of a million.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies during the past two months even as cases surged.

Video Transcript

PATTY MURRAY: I wanted to ask you today, Dr. Fauci, what can we learn from India's outbreak that we should apply to our response here in the US?

ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, I think one of the important things is don't ever underestimate the situation. You know, the reason that India is in such dire straits now is that they had an original surge and made the incorrect assumption that they were finished with it. And what happened, they opened up prematurely and wound up having a surge right now that we're all very well aware of is extremely devastating. That's the first thing.

The second thing is preparedness with regard to public health preparedness, which we, as a lesson learned for future pandemics, have to realize that we need to continue to build up our local, public health infrastructure, which, over the last decades, we have let actually, in many respects, go into disarray, likely because of our successes in controlling so many diseases.

The other lesson that's learn, Madam Chair, is that this is a global pandemic that requires a global response. And we need to pay attention to the responsibility that we have, not only for our own country, but to join with other countries to make sure that we have the access to interventions, particularly vaccines throughout the world, because if it continues to have dynamics of virus anywhere in the world, we have a threat here in the United States, particularly with variants. And there's one variant in India that is also a new variant, number 617, B.617. So those are just a few of the lessons that I believe we can take from what's going on in India.