BENGALURU: As concerns of a probable community spreading linger and governments — Centre and states — scramble to marshal all resources to mitigate the same, it has been decided to rope in even labs under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Department of Atomic Energy for testing Covid-19.
Other national labs under the department of biotechnology (DBT), department of science and technology (DST) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will also be allowed to do the same.
The decision was made at the first meeting of the Empowered Committee for Covid-19 response, which was co-chaired by Niti Aayog member Vinod Paul and Professor K VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to Government of India.
An office memorandum issued after the meeting late on Saturday reads: “National research labs (defined as labs of DBT/DST/CSIR/DRDO/DAE for this directive) are permitted to carry out clinical testing for COVID19 based on self-assessment and willingness to follow established protocols and all applicable reporting regulations as defined by the DHRICMR.”
These labs are permitted to access samples for CoviD19 related research from any government approved clinical testing site or access clinical samples received by them for testing, subject to ethical approval.
“…Results from such research are required to be expeditiously shared in open formats to maximise impact of research. Clinical care agencies are directed to enrich the open dataset by providing de-identified clinical data,” the memorandum adds.
Further, labs with biosafety level three (BSL-3) or BSL-3+ facilities with these agencies (DBT/DST CSIR/DRDO/DAE), are permitted to culture the virus and serve as additional testing and validation sites for research, based on self-assessment of BSL-3 facilities and willingness to follow established protocols as defined by the Department of Health Research and ICMR.
“They may further share reagents and facilities with other national labs to ensure maximum effort for rapid solutions,” the memorandum read, while adding that hospitals (Centre, State and private) must also cooperate with national labs for clinical sample collection where there is an ethical approval in place, subject to capacity for such work and ability to follow established protocols.