A parliamentary panel has highlighted the need for the government to formulate effective laws to counter bio-terrorism, stating the adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic have taught a lesson on the importance of controlling biological agents and the need of strategic partnerships among different nations. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, in its report "The Outbreak of Pandemic COVID-19 And its Management", underlined the need of bio-safety to prevent the world community from any activity signalling bio-terrorism.
The chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee, Ram Gopal Yadav, submitted the report to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday. The committee's attention has been drawn to the fact that novel coronavirus, like viruses infecting large populations across the globe and emerging as pandemics, can be used as biological weapons against enemy nations.
Bio-security, therefore, is a critical area of concern, the report said. The Department of Health and Family has submitted that a holistic approach is needed for ensuring bio-security against biological weapons, that inter-alia include approach for deterrence, prevention, protection and response against biological weapons, engagement with agencies and active participation in ongoing international treaties and strengthening bio-safety and bio-security platforms in India.
It also has pitched for instituting robust bio-repositories for high-risk emerging/ reemerging infectious pathogens, strengthening disease surveillance including at animal-human interface, training and capacity building for management of public health emergencies arising from use of bio-weapons and strengthening research and surveillance activities related to development of diagnostics vaccines and drugs. "The adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic have taught the lesson on the importance of controlling biological agents and the need of strategic partnerships among different nations.
"The committee, therefore, feels that the present time is the most appropriate for the government to formulate effective laws to counter bio-terrorism," the committee said in its report. The panel stated it also believes that with the expanding network of VRDLs, ICMR would serve as an important platform for diagnosis and surveillance of existing as well as emerging viral infections and thus make the country bio-secured against life-threatening viruses and the menace of bio-terrorism. The committee agreed with the Department of Health Research that a holistic approach is needed for ensuring bio-security against biological weapons. The ministry should also engage with agencies and actively participate in ongoing international treaties.
The committee strongly recommended the ministry to conduct more research and work towards training and capacity building for management of public health emergencies arising from use of bio-weapons.