Stable data collection, surveillance needed to tackle infectious diseases: Gagandeep Kang

As monkeypox is reported in a world still grappling with Covid-19, virologist Gagandeep Kang says India should build capacity, whether in diagnostics or vaccine development, and continue generating stable data to help frame the policy.

Monkeypox is less transmissible than Covid-19, has an incubation time of one to two weeks and can therefore be contained through effective contact tracing and isolation, especially when numbers are lower, says Kang. But authorities must be prepared by reaching out to companies for antivirals and vaccines, and must include private labs to build testing capacity, she said.

Going back to HINI’s time, Kang said Activity area, private laboratories had been invited to carry out the tests. A similar approach should be taken now, she said, especially since this is a simple PCR test. “More people should be allowed to test, and a few samples can be sent to (government) reference labs,” she said, adding that private labs could be given standardized protocols to follow, with the government controlling the quality.

The important thing in the fight against infectious diseases is to keep surveillance and data collection stable, whether it’s Covid-19 or monkeypox, she said. “You can’t focus all your energies just on Covid-19 or monkeypox, when there are so many diseases,” she said, pointing for example to tuberculosis, where services have been hit. over the past two years.

WHO concern

Over the weekend, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, even as the expert committee was divided on the issue. whether it was of global concern.

“At this meeting, although differing opinions were expressed, the committee decided by consensus that the outbreak did not represent a public health emergency of international concern. At the time, 3040 cases of monkeypox had been reported to WHO, from 47 countries. Since then, the epidemic has continued to grow and there are now more than 16,000 reported cases in 75 countries and territories, and five deaths,” Tedros said.

In fact, a key concern about the virus, among others, is its reporting by people who have no travel history. But that’s precisely the situation where effective contact tracing is needed, said Kang, a professor at the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Christian Medical College (Vellore).

Perk of the 80s?

Monkeypox belongs to the smallpox family and some doctors indicate that people born before the 1980s and vaccinated against smallpox may have some benefit. (Smallpox has since been eradicated.) Kang observed that those under the age of 40 certainly need to be careful of this virus, which spreads through the air among people in close proximity and in intimate physical contact. However, she added, vaccine protection declines with age, so this must also be taken into account.

If there is a ready supply of vaccines, she said, high-risk groups, etc. could be vaccinated. But currently, since people were recovering with an effective diagnosis and quarantine, “it’s good enough,” she said.

Published on

July 25, 2022

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