Updated: Wed, 27 Jul 2022 10:25 PM IST
The central government on Wednesday floated an expression of interest (EoI), inviting pharmaceutical firms to develop a vaccine and diagnostic kits for monkeypox, which is rapidly spreading its wings across the world.
This comes after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) isolated the monkeypox virus at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. This, top health officials, said has enhanced "India's capacity to do research and development in many other directions".
"The National Institute of Virology has successfully isolated monkeypox virus from the clinical specimen of a patient which can help in the development of diagnostic kits and also vaccines in future.For smallpox live attenuated vaccine was successful for mass immunisation in the past. Similar approaches on new platforms can be tried for making vaccines," news agency PTI quoted NIV senior scientist Dr Pragya Yadav as saying.
According to Dr Yadav, monkeypox is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus, which has two distinct genetic clades - the central African (Congo Basin) clade and the west African clade.
"The recent outbreak which has affected several countries leading to a worrisome situation is caused by the West African strain which is less severe than Congo lineage reported earlier. The cases reported in India are also of the less severe West African lineage," she told PTI.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared monkeypox - a viral zoonosis virus that transmits from animals to humans - a "global public health emergency" as it has spread to 75 countries, affecting over 16,000 and claiming five lives.
In India, four monkeypox cases have been reported till now. While three have reported from Kerala, one has been recorded in Delhi. Although officials have said there is nothing to panic, they have issued guidelines for the monitoring and treatment for monkeypox patients.
"Our disease surveillance system has been energized even more to investigate such cases. The situation is under control, no reason to worry and panic," Dr VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog, told news agency ANI.
"We have to play a responsibility in case there is some individual who has symptoms who should come for diagnosis because this disease has to be represented differently. The individual could be taken care of. We have such systems and restrictions have already been issued. People with symptoms must come forward and report," he added.