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COVID-19 here to stay till 2021, aggressive testing needed to curb its spread: Health experts

While Jha exuded confidence that a vaccine will be available in a year's time, Prof Giesecke said India should practice a lockdown that is as 'soft' as possible, as a severe lockdown will ruin its economy very quickly.

Global health experts on Wednesday said novel coronavirus is here to stay for more than a year and called for aggressive testing to prevent its spread.

In an interaction with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, health experts Professor Ashish Jha and Professor Johan Giesecke talked about the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the series being aired on Congress social media channels.

While Jha exuded confidence that a vaccine will be available in a year’s time, Prof Giesecke said India should practice a lockdown that is as ‘soft’ as possible, as a severe lockdown will ruin its economy very quickly.

“When the economy is opened up after lockdown, you have to create confidence among people,” Harvard health expert Ashish Jha told Gandhi.

Jha is a professor of Global Health at TH Chan School of Public Health and Director, Harvard Global Health institute.

He said coronavirus is a ’12-18 months’ problem and the world is not going to be free of this till 2021.

The expert also called for the need for aggressive testing strategy for high-risk areas.

Gandhi, while interacting with the experts, said life is going to change post COVID-19.

“If 9/11 was a new chapter, this will be a new book,” he remarked.

Professor Johan Giesecke, former chief scientist, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said India should have a ‘soft lockdown’.

“The situation that India is in, I think, you should have a soft lockdown, as soft as possible,” he said.

“I think for India, you will ruin your economy very quickly if you have a severe lockdown. It is better, skip the lockdown, take care of the old and the frail…,” he noted.

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