NEW DELHI :
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said it is documenting all research work related to covid-19, as the number of infections in the country neared 150,000.
India’s apex biomedical research body is maintaining a database on covid-19, a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals to humans, so that the adopted strategy—ranging from testing to treatment—can help the country in tackling such pandemics in future.
“Covid-19 is a new disease and turned into a pandemic. We knew little about it before January. Since January, we are documenting all the work related to it. The database will serve as a guideline and policy document for handling such pandemics in future, especially zoonotic diseases," said Dr Rajni Kant, head, research management, policy, planning and coordination division, ICMR.
“We are setting up the Centre for One Health at ICMR’s National Institute of Virology and Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Science University, Nagpur, which will focus on all zoonotic infections and maintain a database of all diseases, including covid-19."
Zoonotic infection outbreaks may emerge anytime in the near future, cautioned public health experts. Databases and registries are important for the future course of action, considering the havoc covid-19 has created.
“There is now a lot of crowding of humans with animals and birds in many areas of the world. This allows the virus to jump species and mutate to a novel virus. It also promotes virus mixing and re-assortment. Second, the world is getting smaller and international travel has increased manifold," said Dr Randeep Guleria, director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. However, now you can travel to any part of the world within the incubation period of most infections and take it to a new area, and if it not diagnosed in time, it will rapidly spread in there, he added.
The ability to rapidly test and inform has increased globally, Guleria argued. “More and more infections that would otherwise have remained undiagnosed are being quickly diagnosed," he said.
About 75% of emerging and re-emerging infections are zoonotic, and new pathogens continue to emerge and spread across countries, said the National Centre for Disease Control.
Senior ICMR officials said they were also considering the creation of a separate database or a registry along the lines of registries of rare and non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiac, kidney ailments and stroke.
ICMR said India was ill-equipped to handle the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.
The health ministry on Monday said 57,720 people have been cured so far, with 3,280 recovering in the past 24 hours alone. The recovery rate is at 41.57%. ICMR said most states are working with the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme to deploy TrueNAT machines for covid-19 testing in areas where modern virological labs do not exist. More labs are being set up and additional machines have been deployed in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, as well as in the rest of India, ICMR said.