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Terming India's 21-day nationwide lockdown as a "bold and difficult" decision, a top Indian-American pharma industry expert on March 26 said that the country is using a multi-pronged strategy to contain the deadly coronavirus.
“To lockdown India for 21 days to contain COVID-19 was a bold and difficult decision based on scientific reasoning. No other country in the world has taken such a courageous decision to implement social distancing,” Karun Rishi, president of USA India Chamber of Commerce (USAIC) told PTI.
“So far, it has appeared to dodge the full hit of the pandemic,” said Rishi.
Based out of Boston, which is the hub of health and pharma sector in the US, USAIC every year organizes a US-Indian pharma summit attended by top industry and government leaders and officials from the two countries.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used multi-pronged strategy to contain and manage the COVID-19 virus in India,” he said.
The first step taken, he said, was a policy initiative last week to boost manufacturing of bulk drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
Substantial financial package announced by India in these difficult economic times to encourage domestic manufacture of Key Starting Materials (KSM), drug intermediates, and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) show the political will and resolve of the leadership to make India self-reliant for the domestic and export markets, he said.
“Only economies of scale in manufacturing can ensure affordable drug prices for patients. This policy envisions a set of schemes to reap economies of scale and ready availability of inputs in the production of APIs via the cluster approach. This will help India achieve drug security through self-sufficiency in manufacturing of at least 53 critical bulk drugs,” he added.
Asserting that social distancing is the only way to combat the spread of coronavirus, he noted that India with 1.3 billion people is the world's second most populous country and the fifth biggest economy. And so far, it has appeared to dodge the full hit of the pandemic, he observed.
There are less than 10,000 ICU and fewer than 40,000 isolation beds in India. A vast majority of these are already occupied by existing patients, he said.
“If India follows Italy's trajectory, for example, it would be a catastrophe, especially in the poorer Indian states, which have next to zero capacity to cope with this pandemic.
"Priority of the government was saving lives of people. India has shown effective leadership by announcing a nationwide lockdown to tackle coronavirus. This will save millions of lives,” Rishi said.