Dr. Harsh Vardhan appreciates efforts of CSIR and its constituent labs in countering COVID-19

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New Delhi: Minister for Health and Family Welfare and S&T and ES Dr. Harsh Vardhan today reviewed the steps undertaken by CSIR and its constituent 38 labs towards mitigation of Corona Virus outbreak in the country. Hemet all the CSIR lab directors and DG CSIR, Dr Shekhar C Mande through a video conference.

Dr Shekhar C Mande apprised the Minister of the recent initiative of setting up of Core Strategy Group (CSG) and the five verticals under which the COVID-19 related activities are being carried out. The five verticals namely: Digital and Molecular Surveillance; Rapid and Economical Diagnostics; New Drugs / Repurposing of Drugs and associated production processes; Hospital Assistive Devices and PPEs; and Supply Chain and Logistics Support Systems are being reviewed. Dr Mande also mentioned that CSIR is working in close partnership with major Industries, PSUs, MSMEs and other departments and ministries at this time of crisis in the country.

The Minister was happy to note that many CSIR labs are engaged in testing of patient samples with CSIR-CCMB, CSIR-IGIB, CSIR-IIIM and CSIR-IMTECH already testing and CSIR-IHBT, CSIR-NEERI and CSIR-IICB having just received approval. With few more CSIR labs like CSIR-CDRI, CSIR-IITR and CSIR-NEIST getting ready for testing and CSIR-CLRI, CSIR-NIIST and CSIR-NIO supporting State Governments with RT-PCR machines, 14 CSIR labs are contributing to Corona Virus diagnosis. He appreciated the efforts of CSIR-IGIB which has developed rapid and cheap Paper based diagnostic test and CSIR-IICB for initiating plasma based therapy for coronavirus patients. Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director CSIR-CCMB, informed that nearly 500 sequences of Corona Virus are expected from CSIR in the next 3-4 weeks and Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director CSIR-IGIB informed that CSIR is working closely with TCS and Intel and others in developing a digital platform which will help in surveillance of corona outbreak in the country.

Director, CSIR-IICT, Dr. Chandrashekhar apprised theMinister of the recent developments in the synthesis of the repurposed drugs and small Molecules and APIs including Remdesivir, Favipiravir, Arbidol, among others and that CSIR was closely working with Pharma Industry. The Minister appreciated that CSIR is working closely with Ministry of AYUSH for Preventive and Preventive and prophylactic, symptom management and add-on interventions to the modern medicine treatments. Dr Ram Vishwakarma, Director CSIR-IIIM informed the Minister that CSIR and Ministry of Ayush have planned jointly to take up four botanicals Withania somnifera, Tinospora cordifolia, Glycyrrhiza glabra and Ayush-64 for development.

Director, CSIR-NAL highlighted CSIR initiatives under the vertical Hospital Assistive Devices and PPEs, where in CSIR labs are working with BHEL and BEL on Ventilators, Oxygen Enrichment Devices and CSIR labs are also developing 3-D printed face shields, face masks, gowns and other protective equipment.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also appreciated that many CSIR labs are helping the frontline workers, police and other citizens by preparing and distributing safety items and devices in large quantities. He emphasized on the need for scientists across CSIR and other ministries to work together and come up with S&T based solutions to tackle the challenge thrown by the current pandemic. He expressed that India has high expectations from its scientific community and he is sure that the community will rise up and deliver in this time of need.

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