Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar (ANI Photo)
No evidence to indicate artificial or zoonotic origins of COVID-19: Ex ICMR head scientist Gangakhedkar
New Delhi [India], May 30 (ANI): There is no evidence to indicate if COVID-19 was zoonotic infection or it was artificially created, said Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, former Head Scientist of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
"We must remember that if you look at the global data every year, close to about hundred accidents occur even in BSL-4 laboratories which are expected to hold these high risk pathogens and ensure that they are properly maintained in their cultures," he said in an interview with ANI. He added, "We still do not have any evidence whether it is artificially created and then spilled out of the laboratory nor, there is any evidence that it came as a zoonotic infection. We need to wait for evidence to emerge to say conclusively about the origin of the virus."
Speaking about the country's vaccination strategy, he said that all efforts have to be made to obtain the vaccines.
"Now that vaccine doses are not available, we have opened up the purchases from other foreign manufacturers for approved vaccines. We are open to buying these vaccines from other countries as well and we have also invested in increasing the capacity of the vaccines of indigenous vaccines manufacturers," Gangakhedkar said.
He also said that it would be 'prudent' to focus on vaccinating people in the 45+ age group, given that it will take a while to get adequate doses.
"Given that it will take some time to get adequate doses, it would be prudent to first focus on the people who fall in the bracket of 45 years of age. We know that the second wave is on a decline. We should utilise this opportunity to reduce the challenge that a potential third wave can pose to healthcare infrastructure. If we can do that in a massive way I am sure we will be able to make a huge difference with respect to the challenges that will be thrown to the health infrastructure," he added.
On being asked how the new dominant B.1.6171.2 variant can be dangerous, this particular mutant might have higher transmission efficiency which means if it has infected one individual then it may infect more individuals then if it was from some other virus that we had this infection.
He said in order to prevent this spread, people should follow Covid appropriate behaviour and also get themselves vaccinated. (ANI)