The sooner we get out of it, the better, he says during an interaction with public health experts
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that a full lockdown was damaging and the sooner we got out of it, the better. He said this during an online interaction with Prof. Johan Giesecke, member of the Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards of WHO, and Prof. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, as part of his series on interacting with public health experts.
While answering a question from Prof. Giesecke on how India was balancing between disease and economy, Mr. Gandhi said, “Well, we got a full lockdown and I am sceptical of a full lockdown myself. I do think that one has to move to a partial lockdown. I think the full lockdown is damaging and the damage increases exponentially. The sooner you get out of the lockdown, better it is.”
He also accepted the suggestion by Prof. Giescke that more may die due to severe lockdown than the disease. Prof. Giescke, who works with Karolinska Institute, Sweden, spoke about his country, where the lockdown is far more relaxed.
His interaction with both the experts were centred on the question of exit strategy to get out of the lockdown. He posed this question to both the experts. The lockdown, he said, had brought about a psychological change. “When you classify the disease and then you say that we are going to have a lockdown, you change the psychology of the people, of the population, who are suddenly convinced that this is a very dangerous thing… you can’t just blow open the doors,” Mr. Gandhi said, speaking to Prof. Jha.
Prof. Jha agreed that while the lockdown helped in slowing down the spread of the virus, it could not be the goal unto itself. He also said that the government should communicate to the public and be candid about it. He said that the projections that the virus would slow down in next few months were wrong. Till a vaccine was found, which could take up to 18 months, life will more or less remain the same as it was under the lockdown.
Mr. Gandhi said that during his interactions with the migrant labourers he understood that it was the uncertainty of what lay in the future that was frightening for them.
Mr. Gandhi and Prof. Jha spoke at length about testing. Mr. Gandhi claimed that he had been told unofficially by bureaucrats that the reasons testing figures were low was because it would “frighten the people”.
He also pressed for more decentralisation in this fight against the pandemic. “The States that spread more power closer to the people will do better,” he said.
To a question by Prof. Jha on how the virus would change the world, Mr. Gandhi said that the virus was changing the world at a molecular level by attacking the globalised structure and changing the power equations. “I think the balance of power between the U.S. and China will change. People say that 9/11 was a new chapter. This is a new book,” he said.
The interaction was put up by the Congress on its social media platforms.
With inputs from The Hindu