Hyderabad: The Covid-19 pandemic has proved that the Indian scientific community can deliver and stand up to expectations when faced with an adversary like SARS-CoV-2. The pandemic has definitely prepared the community of Indian researchers, clinicians and scientists for a future pandemic, said Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary to Government of India, Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
Speaking in a panel discussion on ‘Hits/Misses and the Hidden Pandemic’ as part of the ongoing two-day international BioAsia-2021 virtual conference on Monday, Dr Swarup said when the pandemic broke out, little was known about the virus.
“Thanks to the prowess of the Indian science and technology community, we now have a robust ecosystem comprising of good treatment, less number of cases, fatalities, a network of laboratories for early diagnosis and above all, we also have vaccines,” Dr Swarup said.
The Drugs Controller General (India), Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, Dr VG Somani, who was one of the panellists in the discussion, said that through collaboration and cooperation with the international scientific community, Indian regulators were able to give permissions at the right time.
“Given the challenges of the pandemic and the urgency to have access to new drugs and vaccines, we are confident that we are in the right direction. Our subject expert committee has done a good job in giving the approvals but at the same time also kept the safety aspect paramount,” he said.
CMD of Medanta Hospital, Dr Naresh Trehan, hailed the combined efforts of the Central and State governments, healthcare and frontline workers and the general public in fighting the Covid pandemic. “Last year in March, when we first started to receive Covid-19 cases, the country did not have enough supply of masks, ventilators, medicines and PPE equipment. Today, including the vaccines, we are exporting medical equipment to other countries. This alone proves the ability to bounce back through collaboration and knowledge sharing of our clinicians and scientists,” he said, adding that while the country managed to reduce the number of Covid infections, it was now burdened with a huge backlog of non-Covid diseases of the heart, kidney, liver etc.
“There is a huge backlog of non-Covid cases that doctors now have to deal with,” he said. President (Global Health), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Trevor Mundel, Dr Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer, CEPI and Dr Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also participated.
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