Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday exhorted scientists to develop COVID-19 mitigation solutions keeping a fixed timeframe in mind, saying these are "times of war" and it should not be treated as a routine research project.
Vardhan held a review meeting with the Director General Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Shekhar Mande, and all the 38 CSIR lab directors, a statement said.
During the meeting, Mande said a Core Strategy Group (CSG) has been set up and five verticals have been identified under which coronavirus-related activities are being carried out.
These include digital and molecular surveillance, rapid and economical diagnostics, new drugs/repurposing of drugs and associated production processes, hospital assistive devices and PPEs; and supply chain and logistics support systems.
Vardhan, however, cautioned CSIR scientists to develop COVID-19 mitigation solutions keeping a fixed timeframe in mind. "These are times of war, CSIR scientists should work to deliver solutions before war ends, they should not treat it as a routine research project, he said.
COVID-19 has also come as a blessing in disguise as it will give a boost to the country's resilience and self-reliance, and enhance indigenous capacity in developing critical health care equipment, the minister said.
Vardhan appreciated that CSIR labs were also conducting tests of swab samples of coronavirus patients and some of them have started doing genetic sequencing of the virus with a target of doing 500 sequencing in coming weeks.
Genetic sequencing is very crucial in identifying the host response as well as identifying population vulnerability to the disease, he said. The minister said these genetic sequencing efforts remind him of the polio eradication movement 26 years back.
Mande said 15 CSIR labs are working in close partnership with major industries, PSUs, MSMEs and other departments and ministries at the time of crisis in the country.
He also appreciated the work done by CSIR-national aerospace laboratories with Bengaluru BHEL and BEL on ventilators and oxygen enrichment devices. They are also developing 3-D printed face shields, face masks, gowns and other protective equipment, the statement added.
"All these things will help us in the next few weeks," he said.