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Centre to fund research for vaccine against COVID-19

“We have developed a research strategy and are looking at quick research leads, like development of diagnostics and monoclonal antibody as a therapeutic option,” DBT Secretary Renu Swarup said.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: February 18, 2020 4:14:27 am
coronavirus infection, coronavirus  deaths, coronavirus vaccine, COVID-19, Pune news, maharashtra news, indian express news India had recently sent its scientists to a meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that deliberated on developing treatment options, including drugs and diagnostics, as a counter measure to arrest the spread of coronavirus. (Representational Image)

The Centre’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has encouraged Indian companies and researchers to develop a vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19). DBT Secretary Renu Swarup told The Indian Express that they have committed funding to support researchers towards the development of the vaccine.

“We have developed a research strategy and are looking at quick research leads, like development of diagnostics and monoclonal antibody as a therapeutic option,” Swarup said.

India had recently sent its scientists to a meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that deliberated on developing treatment options, including drugs and diagnostics, as a counter measure to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

Swarup said the DBT was partnering with the India chapter of the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI). She said there was a need to develop effective treatment and to that end, a top up funding will be given to support Indian companies and researchers working to develop vaccines against COVID-19.

Dr Gagandeep Kang, board member of CEPI, said there were half-a-dozen pharmaceutical firms and researchers worldwide who are already working on developing a vaccine. “From India, too, there are two pharmaceutical firms — Zydus Cadila and Serum Institute — that have begun work,” Kang said. Academia has also applied for research funds towards the development of a vaccine.

60 samples test negative across state

Meanwhile, a total of 38,131 people have been screened at Mumbai international airport till February 17. Field surveillance is also actively underway across Maharashtra in search of people coming from coronavirus disease-affected areas. Till today, the state has 220 passengers who came from these areas. From January 18 till date, a total of 64 symptomatic travellers have been isolated at various government facilities. A total of 60 samples have tested negative for coronavirus across the state. Presently, five travellers are in isolation facilities — three in Sangli and two in Mumbai.

According to Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, travellers coming from affected countries are monitored for up to 14 days. Of 220 travellers, at least 138 have completed their follow-up of 14 days till date. Apart from Mumbai, Pune and Thane, travellers have been monitored across Nanded, Buldhana, Nagpur, Wardha, Sangli, Ahmednagar, Amravati, Palghar, Jalgaon, Chandrapur and Satara districts.

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