A way out of the pandemic 

#GS2 #Governance #GS3 #Health  

Ramping up production of personal protective equipment for mass use will help 

  • There are instances globally where food supply chains have broken down already as a result of the prolonged economic shutdown.   
  • A possible way out, till the COVID-19 vaccine arrives, is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to all the workers in sectors which need to be opened up on priority.   
  • We take India as a case in point but the argument holds true for any economy.  

How deep is the crisis? 

  • Countries which have flattened the COVID-19 curve have either relied on mass-scale testing to segregate the infected from the uninfected (South Korea) or have had a carefully monitored, micro-managed region-specific quarantine strategy (China).   
  • India has adopted a strategy of a national lockdown without extensive testing which is neither here nor there, the result of which is we do not seem to be sure when to lift the lockdown.  
  • As far as the food crisis is concerned, the world is staring at the possibility of the supply of essentials running out when the existing stocks of food and other essentials is used up since their production has slowed down or stopped.   
  • One obvious way out is the early arrival of a vaccine/cure but that normally takes about 18 months to become publicly available.   

An employment option 

  • A mass-scale production of test kits, PPEs, etc. will have two effects, apart from the healthcare dimension, on the economy.   
  • One, it will increase direct employment in the test kits and PPE production industries while creating safe employment conditions in the essentials and other priority sectors.   
  • Two, since the essentials sector is at the core of this strategy, which has direct backward linkages with the agricultural sector, it will prioritise the ones worst affected by the lockdown currently.   
  • All this would require expenditure over and above the current stimulus since these test kits and PPEs would have to be provided gratis for it have any meaningful effect.   
  • Public sector units would have to produce it apart from the private sector through subsidies given for their production.  
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