A parliamentary committee has recommended the government appeals to the comity of nations to conduct more studies to identify the origin of COVID-19 and penalise the culprits at an international platform.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, in its report titled ‘Vaccine Development, Distribution Management and Mitigation of Pandemic COVID-19’, said there is still a lack of concrete evidence on whether coronavirus reached humans via a laboratory incident.
The report was submitted to the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The panel understands that if the origin of coronavirus is allowed to remain a mystery, it will have colossal consequences on biosafety and biosecurity of the world, the report stated.
“The committee, therefore, strongly recommends the government to reckon its diplomacy to appeal to the comity of nations to conduct more studies to identify the origin of COVID-19 and penalise the culprits at the International platform," it said.
The report stated the increasing number of emerging viruses highlighted the necessity to establish a robust mechanism for systematic investigation of the origin and the route of transmission of pathogens. It recommended that the ministry develop a healthcare framework in the country for investigating and managing a future outbreak of disease more effectively.
“In this regard, the committee strongly believes that the recently constituted task force team led by (Niti Aayog member) Dr VK Paul will track the monkeypox situation and provide guidance to the government on the expansion of diagnostic facilities in the country and combat the menace," the panel said.
The committee highlighted that considering the high number of total Covid cases in the country, the number of samples sequenced is very low.
Genome sequencing is part of an effective virus containment strategy and facilitates better surveillance thereby entailing the necessity for better policy formulation on COVID-19 management, it said.
Keeping into account that India lags in genome sequencing and has sequenced very few samples when compared to other countries, the committee strongly believes that there is a need to augment genome sequencing facilities in India, it said.
Taking into consideration the anticipation and conclusion of virologists and microbiologists that the virus will continue to evolve and possibly mutate into a more virulent and transmissible variant and so has been evident by the subsequent Covid waves across the world, it is advised to expand the genome sequencing machinery in the country to keep a track of mutating variants, the report stated.
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