Covid health infra can now be used for TB management: Dr Soumya Swaminathan
We have the latest technology, and new platforms like mRNA platform, viral vector platform, and others, which were used to tackle Covid. We should use them to manage TB eradication also.”
Published: 21st January 2023 05:42 AM | Last Updated: 21st January 2023 05:42 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: The healthcare infrastructure readied to tackle Covid-19 could now be used to treat tuberculosis (TB) cases, and develop a new vaccine as the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine (used for inoculation against TB) was formulated over 100 years ago, said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, former World Health Organisation chief scientist on Friday.
Delivering a public speech titled ‘Towards Health Equity: a Vision for India’ organised by REACH, a Chennai-based NGO that has been working on tuberculosis eradication since its inception, to mark its 25th anniversary, she said “Without vaccines, we can’t wipe out infectious diseases. Genetic sequencing is also now possible. We have the latest technology, and new platforms like mRNA platform, viral vector platform, and others, which were used to tackle Covid. We should use them to manage TB eradication also.”
“Creating a new vaccine will be challenging. But with the right collaboration and investments, it can be done. Also, why can’t we devise rapid tests for TB as we had for Covid? During the peak of the pandemic, scientists made unprecedented progress in treatment methods. Dozens of vaccines were developed at record speed without compromising on safety. Around 14 billion doses of Covid vaccine have been administered across the world so far,” she said and added that this progress should open our eyes to the possibilities of new innovation and research models.
Opining that India should lead the world in this aspect, the doctor added, “Technology, science, researchers and interested companies are available to us now. There should be a vision. India could provide that and lead from the forefront since our country had devised plans to eradicate TB ahead of the rest of the world. The government should first take into account the social economic determinants.
Social determinants of health account for 33% to 55% of our healthcare outcomes, and only the rest are determinants based on access to health services. We need to look at economic aspects such as education, access to healthcare and its quality.” Health Minister Ma Subramanian also spoke at the event. Nalini Krishnan, executive Secretary and co-founder, REACH and others were present on the occasion.