Silently, additional chief secretary Rajeev Sadanandan gained the ammo to take on Nipah

When Nipah was confirmed in Kozhikode, no medical agency either at the state or national level had prior knowledge of how to deal with it. 

Published: 10th June 2018 04:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2018 08:02 PM   |  A+A-


Image for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: When Nipah was confirmed in Kozhikode, no medical agency either at the state or national level had prior knowledge of how to deal with it. There were not many study reports on the virus. Hence, the aid of international agencies was necessary for the state government to fight the deadly virus. It was additional chief secretary (health) Rajeev Sadanandan who was instrumental in roping in international bodies and experts to join the battle. Speaking to Express, Sadanandan admitted that the lack of knowledge about Nipah was a cause for grave concern. It was then that he discovered Christopher Broder, an American citizen who had worked extensively on Nipah. 

“Broder is among the few who have worked on Nipah. But tracing him was a tough job. Though a US citizen, he is now working in Malaysia. We tried to trace him using our US contacts. Thankfully, Manoj Mohanan, a Keralite working at a university, helped us in tracing him,” he said. 

“It was through him that we came to know about the studies and developments happening across the world on Nipah. It was Broder who helped us get in touch with the government in Queensland, where they have developed a monoclonal antibody, a remedial medicine found to be effective among those infected by a similar virus,” he said. Though talks were held with the Central government to bring the medicine from Australia, it was not an easy task to get a nod from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to use it on people in India. Every drug to be used on people in India needs to be approved by the DCGI. 

“Generally, it takes about three-four months to get the DCGI’s nod. But we had no time. And the drug from Australia had only completed phase 1 trial. Generally, we use drugs that have completed phase 3 trial,” he said.This is when the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) played a crucial role. “I had contacted Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, chief of infectious disease at ICMR. It was his timely intervention that helped us in getting permission from the DCGI to use the monoclonal antibody,” he said. Soon, talks were held with the Queensland government and the drug was sourced. 

The health secretary said though the drug were sourced, a protocol on how to administer it to a patient wasn’t evolved. It was then that a Malayali link at the WHO came in handy. “The person who offered us help was Soumya Swaminathan, who is the daughter of M S Swaminathan, now a deputy director general at WHO,” he said.

Soumya played a key role in reviving a committee called Nipah Drugs Trial Group. “The committee was constituted in Geneva, which comprised of doctors and experts from various countries. Dr Gangakhedkar representing ICMR, Dr Chandini Sajeevan, head of emergency medicine (Kozhikode Medical College), Dr T K Suma, who joined the expert group from Alappuzha Medical College, and I were in the group. We held five rounds of discussions via video conferencing to finalise the protocol,” he said.

Tackling the deadly menace 
# No new cases or deaths since May 30
# Two persons admitted to Medical College on Saturday
# 12 samples arrive on Saturday, all negative
# In total, 307 samples have been tested
# 289 samples have turned negative
# No additions to contact list on Saturday 

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  • AR Satheesh.

    a big salute to Rajeev Sadanandan IAS
    7 months ago reply
  • Dileep

    Great success as a team leader with complete spirit of a health professional
    7 months ago reply
  • Srinivas Bandla

    Kudos to the efforts of Shri Rajeev Sadanandan and his team in containing Nipah virus. These efforts will be remembered for long. We need more such persons and teams to take India forward.
    7 months ago reply
  • Sharath

    True hero
    7 months ago reply
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