THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the COVID-19 caseload plummets in the state, the Health Department is planning to focus more on research aspects. It is learnt the state will partner with global and national agencies for COVID-19 research, which includes clinical study, development of drugs, convalescent serum therapy, whole-genome sequence, herd immunity and others.
The collaboration will be with the World Health Organization (WHO), Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) and Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB). “Research will help the state deal with any emergency situation that may arise in the future especially when mass repatriation of overseas Keralites happens,” said an officer of the department.
According to the officer, the expert panel constituted by the government for COVID-19 containment activities has also given a suggestion to concentrate on research areas. As per a department note, the association with WHO will be for the solidarity trial, a multi-country clinical study for potential treatments for COVID-19 which is a part of a rapid global search for drugs to treat the virus. But to become part of the same, the state needs the nod of the Drug Controller General of India and a request has been submitted.
The tie-up with ICMR will be for an interstate study on COVID-19. The tie-up with SCTIMST will be for the convalescent serum therapy as Health Department is planning to work closely with it. In the case of RGCB and IGIB, the coordination will be for developing the whole-genome sequencing, which will help track new mutations or different strains of SARS-CoV-2 by studying genetic code of viruses from different patients.