NEW DELHI: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which has been at the forefront fighting the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, is also making strides in research and development of local testing kits and other therapeutics to tackle the novel coronavirus.
The government’s research wing is evaluating “repurposed molecules”or redevelopment of molecules for use in different diseases like Covid-19 and will soon go for in-vitro testing, Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR said.
Stating that India was a world leader in the supply of diagnostic kits for dengue, malaria and chikungunya, he said efforts were on to quickly come up with a similar kit for novel coronavirus and National Institute of Virology, Pune is working on it.
ICMR said there is a need to prioritise research and it is focusing on repurposed molecules instead of antibody-based serology tests which currently cannot be used for diagnosis of suspected Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the drug regulator Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) also initiated steps to facilitate development of local Covid-19 test kits, vaccines and therapeutics by deciding to fast track regulatory approvals for companies researching and developing Covid-related vaccines, diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutics.
India will now also participate in World Health Organisation’s “solidarity trial” aimed at developing vaccines for Covid-19. So far India didn’t volunteer as there weren’t enough numbers to participate in the trial, but now with the number of Covid-19 cases rapidly increasing, India has decided to go ahead with the decision.
According to the WHO, many countries like Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand have already confirmed joining the solidarity trial which is designed to generate the robust data required to show which treatments are the most effective.
“We are also watching the efforts of various research groups working on the vaccine, at least five are already in the animal testing stage. We have indicated our interest in the human trial stage,” Dr Gangakhedkar said.