US expert, NY mayor favour national lockdown

Updated March 16, 2020

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A coronavirus (COVID-19) related sign is pictured in the French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans on March 15. — Reuters
A coronavirus (COVID-19) related sign is pictured in the French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans on March 15. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: A top US expert of infectious disease said on Sunday he would support a temporary national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus while New York’s mayor said he also was prepared to lockdown his city, if needed. New York City’s coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in less than a week from 25 to 269.

“Every option is on the table in a crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN when asked if he could lockdown New York to curb the rapidly multiplying deadly virus. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”

The mayor said he fears the city’s coronavirus tally could rise to 1,000 in the next few days. “It’s changing every hour so we’re going to constantly make new decisions.”

Mayor de Blasio also urged the Trump Administration to assume a war-time footing to fight the pandemic. “We need the federal government to take over the supply chain right now,” he said.

America’s top expert of infectious disease also said that he would not oppose imposing a “national lockdown” to fight back the outbreak of this dangerous strain.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said he’d “like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see” at all public places, including bars and restaurants.

“Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see,” said Dr Fauci when asked specifically if he would support a national lockdown. He said that Americans need to come to terms with the fact that life will begin to look much different as the country tries to slow the spread of the disease. Dr. Fauci is a key member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force.

“We need to be very serious about — for a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” he said. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”

The US media also reported on Sunday that about 35 companies and academic institutions have joined the search for a vaccine to fight back this deadly virus. The first of these — produced by Boston-based biotech firm Moderna — will enter human trials in April.

Also, a German newspaper reported earlier Sunday that the Trump administration had offered a German medical company “large sums of money” for exclusive access to a Covid-19 vaccine.

The German government was trying to fight off the alleged US takeover bid, the broadsheet Die Welt reports, citing German government circles.

Germany was strongly resisting the US offer to the biopharmaceutical company CureVac, wrote Die Welt newspaper.

Although based in the German city of Tübingen, CureVac also has a site Boston in the US. On March 11, CureVac released a statement that its CEO, the US citizen Daniel Menichella, was unexpectedly leaving the firm and would be replaced by the company’s founder, Ingmar Hoerr.

At the start of the month, Menichella was invited to the White House to discuss strategy for the rapid development and production of a coronavirus vaccine with President Trump, the vice-president, Mike Pence, and members of the White House coronavirus task force.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2020