Takshashila Discussion Document – COVID-19: Lessons from the US in the Second World War

By Sarthak Pradhan, Anirudh Kanisetti, and Pranav R. Satyanath

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This document studies the rapid expansion of industrial capacity in the US during the Second World War to derive lessons for India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It provides insights on ramping up manufacturing capacity for goods required to fight the pandemic, and set the economy on the path to recovery and mass manufacturing to take advantage of the long-term reorientation of global supply chains away from China.

The analysis shows that a combination of government incentives and private initiatives can address these challenges at scale. These include models of state financing, ideas on enabling IP transfer and innovation, and ideas on developing and incentivising the labour force. Key recommendations include a national and state-level reserve for PPE and treating healthcare equipment and personnel as strategic assets in terms of development and deployment. This document suggests ways to leverage private sector capacity to bolster and expand public healthcare, rather than nationalisation. It also suggests that governments could facilitate licensing agreements and ease regulatory requirements to leverage expertise across sectors, and enter advance purchase agreements to incentivise the private sector to proceed with the high capital investment required to build up manufacturing capacity.

COVID-Lessons from the Second World War - 18 June - Takshashila Institution - v1.0

Download the Discussion Document in PDF