No evidence to point out artificial origin of Covid-19, says ex-ICMR head scientist

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There is no clear proof or evidence whatsoever to point out whether or not Covid-19 was a zoonotic infection or has a laboratory-based origin, revealed Dr Raman Gangahedkar, ex-head scientist, Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

In an interview with ANI, Gangahedkar said, “We must remember that if you look at the global data every year, close to about hundred accidents occur even in BSL-4 laboratories which are expected to hold these high risk pathogens and ensure that they are properly maintained in their cultures.”

He added, “We still do not have any evidence whether it is artificially created and then spilled out of the laboratory nor, there is any evidence that it came as a zoonotic infection. We need to wait for evidence to emerge to say conclusively about the origin of the virus.”

While addressing the vaccination strategy of the country, he iterated the efforts have to be made to procure the required doses of the vaccine.

Gangahedkar further said, “Now that vaccine doses are not available, we have opened up the purchases from other foreign manufacturers for approved vaccines. We are open to buying these vaccines from other countries as well and we have also invested in increasing the capacity of the vaccines of indigenous vaccines manufacturers.”

He iterated it would be discreet to concentrate on completing the vaccination drive for the 45 age group, as it will take quite some time to get the required amount of doses.

He further added, “Given that it will take some time to get adequate doses, it would be prudent to first focus on the people who fall in the bracket of 45 years of age. We know that the second wave is on a decline. We should utilise this opportunity to reduce the challenge that a potential third wave can pose to healthcare infrastructure. If we can do that in a massive way I am sure we will be able to make a huge difference with respect to the challenges that will be thrown to the health infrastructure.”

When inquired about how the new variant – dominant B.1.6171.2 can be dangerous in nature, this novel mutant will consist of higher transmission efficacy indicating that if it has infected one person, it would subsequently infection more persons then it was from other different virus that we had the infection.

He also said the public should adhere to the Covid-19 protocols, have Covid-19 appropriate behavior and get themselves vaccinated, for preventing the spread of the deadly virus.

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