At least 100 scientists petition PM Modi for better access to ICMR’s data bank
‘ICMR database is inaccessible to anyone outside of the government and perhaps also to many within the government’
At least 100 Indian scientists, a number of of them biologists and specialists in illness modelling and genome sequencing from a few of India’s main analysis establishments, have petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to coax the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to enhance access to its data bank.
“The ICMR database is inaccessible to anyone outside of the government and perhaps also to many within the government. Most scientists — including several identified by Department of Science and Technology and NITI Aayog to develop new prediction models for India — do not have access to these data,” their petition famous.
As India grapples a fearsome second wave of the pandemic with over 350,000 new instances being added day by day, questions have been raised on whether or not the federal government and its scientists had been blindsided.
The petitioners rued that the federal government’s insurance policies on Atmanirbhar Bharat had made importing scientific tools and reagents “an extremely tedious and time-consuming process” requiring approval on the stage of the Secretaries of Ministries or Departments. “This has reduced scientists’ abilities to scale up testing by developing new testing platforms and has impaired our ability to sequence viral genomes for surveillance rapidly and accurately…Such restrictions, at this time, only serve to impede our ability to deal with COVID-19. We request the withdrawal of these restrictions,” their petition mentioned.
For precisely forecasting and gauging outbreaks, it was crucial to have access to medical data that in flip would assist with estimating necessities for oxygen, medical provides, ventilators and ICU beds. “Many scientists have been trying to get data on comorbidities and blood analysis of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, without success,” the letter famous.
The signatories embrace the president of the Indian Academy of Sciences; senior scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and the National Centre for Biological Sciences; and the Ashoka University. However, the petition doesn’t point out the scientists’ institutional affiliations.
The scientists say that with out adequately funding and widening the community of organisations to gather large-scale surveillance data primarily based on genome-sequencing of the coronavirus and releasing this data quickly within the public area, it could be troublesome to effectively handle COVID-19.
By manner of instance, the authors cited the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), established for genomic surveillance, and mentioned it was solely sequencing the coronavirus from about 1% of contaminated people. More sequencing and simultaneous assortment of medical data from contaminated people was essential to understanding whether or not a mutated virus is extra virulent. “These data should be released in real time to the scientific community for analysis and inference,” the letter mentioned.