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Focus: GS-III Science and Technology, Disaster Management

Why in news?

  • Co-chair of the Empowered Committee for COVID-19 Response, India, Dr. V.K. Paul said the changed circumstances of the spread of the disease called for a revised testing strategy and marshalling all resources to contain the pandemic.
  • He also indicated that India is close to rolling out a simpler, indigenous testing kit for the virus.
  • COVID-19 is a new animal in the zoo – meaning we are still understanding the virus.

The COVID-19 situation is unpredictable

  • We have been containing it to a large extent but the way these things pan out, emerging scenarios are unpredictable and can be very serious, so let us put our act together.
  • This has the potential to become an outbreak and become bigger and we cannot rule that out.
  • India so far has been in a reasonably good shape and we have not seen any deaths which are unexplained.
  • COVID-19 is a new animal in the zoo, we are still understanding the virus that hasn’t seen a full cycle of season, so cannot say conclusively how it will behave.

Lack of health infrastructure

  • It is no secret that that India’s health infrastructure needs to be augmented and that we need to double of patients-bed and patient-medical staff ratio.
  • We are evolving as country and we have been emphasising the need to increase of healthcare foot print from Tier 2 to Tier 3 cities.
  • We should have a much stronger and much bigger and much more competent health system and that journey has many more milestones to be achieved.

How are we handling the Healthcare Infrastructure?

  • Currently States across India have been instructed to marshal all their resources to ensure that we are able to contain the virus.
  • They have been asked to use all legal and emergency powers and funds to cater to any medical situation that may come about.
  • It is a situation for which you have to pull out all stops and get makeshift arrangements if need be.
  • So far India has remained relatively safe, but we need to be aware and prepared.

How will the 14-hour ‘Janata Curfew’ help?

  • This one-day bandh is the only way we can cut down or dent transmission.
  • That’s the good, old way things work, when we don’t have a medicine, we don’t have the vaccine, you have to make sure that it doesn’t pass on to the next person.
  • While we cannot create a perfect situation so social distancing is key and this drill is essential.

Where are we in terms of making available testing kits and vaccine?

  • We are looking at two types of technologies/products — one is diagnostic kits and the other, of course, is vaccine which is a long term solution.
  • We are very close to making available a simpler and indigenous diagnostic test.
  • There are 4 to 6 very promising options being carried out and we are very close to an early validation and early scale up.
  • Vaccine pipeline will be about eight months to a year or more.
  • If vaccine comes out somewhere else, they may find it very sensible to manufacture here in India.

February 2024