Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that life will change post the coronavirus outbreak and will alter the existing structure in the world. Gandhi made the comments while speaking with global public healthcare experts Dr Ashish Jha and Johan Giesecke. It was part of a series of video-conference of the Congress MP with intellectuals on charting a path to recovery after the pandemic.
“The most vulnerable Covid-19 places are nerve centres of globalisation,” Gandhi said. “I feel we will have a new world after this virus. I also think it going to reshape Europe. Balance of power between China and the US will be changed. Like 9/11 was a new chapter, this is a new book.”
The former Congress president added that a full lockdown was damaging and the sooner we got out of it, the better. This came a day after he said that the Narendra Modi government’s plan to control the spreading coronavirus in India with four phases of nationwide lockdown has failed.
Jha, a Harvard University professor, said that three vaccines were showing promising results in the fight against the virus and exuded confidence that it will be available in a year’s time. “These are from America, China and Oxford,” he added. “For now, they all seem promising – may be one of them or all turn out to be effective. I am confident that the vaccine will be available by next year. India has to prepare a plan on how to avail vaccines for its population.”
Meanwhile, Giesecke, a former chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said India should have a “soft lockdown’’ as a severe one will ruin the country’s economy very quickly. Gandhi accepted the suggestion by Giesecke that more people may die due to severe lockdown than the pandemic.
While answering a question from Giesecke on how India was balancing between the infection and the economy, 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, [the] better it is.”
The Congress leader said that the lockdown has 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,” he added.
Jha called for an aggressive testing strategy for high-risk areas and said India should have strategy to open the economy and create confidence among the people.
Gandhi also reiterated his call for decentralisation of power to tackle the pandemic. He said during his meetings with the migrant workers he understood that it was the uncertainty of what lay in the future that was frightening for them.
India’s has so far recorded 1,51,767 coronavirus cases and 4,337 deaths, according to the health ministry.