The Indian scientific community must keep generating greater amount of data and share information on the coronavirus mutually, said senior scientists of Indian National Science Academy (INSA).
With a nationwide lockdown putting a stop to regular activities, members of the INSA and Indian National Young Academy of Science have recently launched a webinar series aimed at reaching out to students and scientists with latest scientific developments.
“We are in constant discussions with major science academics around the world, including Commonwealth academies and Asian academies on the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the time when we need to communicate more on the issues of science,” said Chandrima Shaha, INSA chief and senior immunologist, during her opening remarks of the webinar.
The first webinar was delivered by L S Shashidhara, senior evolutionary biologist associated with Ashoka University and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
Though the coronavirus pandemic is a major health crisis, biologists said humanity has seen and overcome far worse pandemics, including the Spanish Flu, in the past.
Suggesting that scientists must continue to study the new virus and generate more data, Shashidhara said, “The novel coronavirus could still be a milder form of virus in comparison to some of the deadlier viruses that humanity has seen. As scientists, our job is to generate more knowledge. We will need to review what measures worked during past pandemics.”
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo had said the coronavirus has its provenance in Chinese laboratories. Shashidhara said biologists across the world have confirmed that it is a naturally designed virus.
He said, “After studying the virus, it is now understood that the virus is not artificial. What now needs to be found out is if the virus was accidentally leaked in the lab or spread through natural man-animal conflict in wet markets.”
Indian scientists have repeatedly raised concerns on the depleting funding towards basic sciences, but Shashidhara said all present research focused on COVID-19 is the result of the advancement made in this field.
“We are able to perform tests, detect cases and are inching closer to developing drugs. All this is an indication of how far basic sciences have advanced. With nearly a 100 companies, globally, now working on drug development, a vaccine will emerge within a year or two,” he said.
The ongoing pandemic has opened the best opportunity for the scientific community to perform research with greater vigour.
“COVID-19 has brought opportunities to do excellent science so that we can find ways to protect us from similar events in future,” said Shaha.
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