Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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Prof Devi Sridhar


PROFESSOR Devi Sridhar, 34, has emerged as a leading voice in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing for ‘zero-Covid strategy’ to eliminate the virus, instead of merely suppressin

Writing soon after the UK went into its first lockdown in March 2020, Sridhar predicted “an endless cycle of lockdown and release over the next year” as a possible scenario. As the UK went into a third national lockdown in January 2021, interspersed with regional restrictions, the Indian-American scientist’s words of caution, always pronounced with bracing clarity, has assumed ever greater significance.

Her advocacy for significant restrictions may sound negative, but when she says we need to get ahead of the virus to avoid restrictions next winter, it’s time to take serious note. She is equally blunt to the criticism of being negative. “I don’t sell false hope or make myself popular by saying virus will just disappear. It won’t. We can either be at the mercy of this virus, or we can proactively get ahead of it. It’s up to [the] governments and to us.” That was her refrain to the Twitterati.

Sridhar, a professor at the University of Edinburgh where she is the founding director of the Global Health Governance Programme, plays an important role in shaping the Scottish government’s policy decisions around the pandemic, as a member of the devolved administration’s Covid-19 advisory group. She also serves

on the Royal Society DELVE initiative, which inputs into the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and the International Best Practice Advisory Group of the UK Cabinet Office.

However, it’s her interventions in the media in the debates surrounding the pandemic that has catapulted her as an opinion maker. She has repeatedly debunked the economy vs Covid-19 argument, warning that in the medium to long term, it is clearly the virus,

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