Biopharmaceuticals Current Affairs - 2020

Rs 15,000 crores approved by Union Cabinet for COVID-19

On April 22, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved Rs 15,000 crores towards “India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Challenge”. The funds are to be utilised in 3 phases.

Highlights

For an immediate response Rs 7,774 crore has been sanctioned. The rest of the funds are to be utilised as medium-term support in 1 to 4 years. The main aim of the funds is to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in India.

Objectives of the fund

The main objectives of the fund are as follows

  • To develop COVID-19 dedicated treatment facilities
  • To develop COVID-19 dedicated Diagnostics
  • To procure essential medical equipment to treat COVID-19 patients
  • To procure drugs to treat the disease
  • To prepare for future disease outbreaks
  • To set up laboratories
  • To improve surveillance activities
  • To increase bio-security preparedness
  • To encourage more COVID-19 research

All the above initiatives are to be implemented under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Central Drug Research Institute signs MoU to sequence virus strains

On April 18, 2020, the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with King George Medical University to sequence the strains of COVID-19 virus samples obtained from different patients.

What is the plan?

According to the MoU, a Lucknow based lab is to sequence the virus strains. This is to be done under a “Digital and Molecular Surveillance”. A molecular surveillance system is collection, reporting and analysis of genetic sequences. Molecular surveillance is currently being used in HIV drug testing, foodborne infections and TB.

Variants

There are nine different variants of the virus known so far. Three were recently found by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre.

Current Scenario

Currently, the CDRI is working on repurposing of drugs to fight COVID-19. According to CDRI, repurposing of drugs is the fastest way to find solution to the virus rather than finding a new drug. Repurposing of drugs is a new strategy that investigates the existing drugs for therapeutic purposes.