India can fight COVID-19, but only if the private sector is allowed to step in quickly

It is important to say this because thus far, the task of addressing the COVID-19 has been delegated exclusively to the government. Almost all activities, from airlifting Indian nationals, screening arrivals at airports, testing samples, quarantining and treatment are carried out by the government. While this will be effective if the number of cases remains in the current order of magnitude, the government’s facilities alone will not be sufficient if the number of cases rises 100 times or more.

The good news is that India has a private healthcare sector and R&D capability that can be used in the fight. The bad news is that we’re not letting them.

If we even have a few lakh suspected cases, the government’s resources will fall short of what is required. The right time to think about the capacity required to handle such a massive crisis is now. The single most important thing for India to have a national response — as opposed to a government response — is to enable the private healthcare ecosystem to play an appropriate role to complement the government’s efforts wherever possible.

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