United Nations/Geneva, Oct 14: Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, a number one Indian epidemiologist, has been named to an professional group launched by the WHO that can look at the origins of rising and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, together with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Gangakhedkar, the previous head of epidemiology and communicable illnesses on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is the Dr C.G. Pandit National Chair on the ICMR.
The World Health Organisation on Wednesday introduced the proposed members of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). The SAGO will advise WHO on the event of a worldwide framework to outline and information research into the origins of rising and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, together with SARS-CoV-2.
Since the coronavirus was first detected within the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan in late 2019, the query of the way it first emerged stays unclear. China has strongly refuted the idea that the virus leaked in a lab accident on the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The international well being organisation mentioned that after cautious consideration of all purposes submitted to WHO, the 26 scientists who come from a number of international locations, had been chosen and their names proposed for membership of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). The members are to serve of their private capacities to symbolize the broad vary of disciplines related to rising and re-emerging pathogens.
“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a reality of nature, and whereas SARS-CoV-2 is the newest such virus, it is not going to be the final,” mentioned Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Understanding the place new pathogens come from is important for stopping future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad vary of experience. We are very happy with the calibre of consultants chosen for SAGO from around the globe, and sit up for working with them to make the world safer,” he mentioned.
Gangakhedkar had grow to be the face of ICMR throughout authorities briefings to the media on the coronavirus pandemic. He retired as the pinnacle of epidemiology and communicable illnesses on the apex well being analysis physique in June final 12 months. He represented ICMR in nationwide press briefings and up to date journalists on analysis developments associated to COVID-19 in India by breaking down complicated scientific knowledge to make them simpler for most of the people to know.
Gangakhedkar additionally performed an vital position within the analysis on HIV/AIDS and made a major contribution in growing nationwide insurance policies and affected person empowerment. He was the director-incharge of the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune, earlier than he moved to the ICMR headquarters in Delhi. During his roughly four-year stint with ICMR, he was instrumental in formulation of insurance policies to deal with the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala in 2018 and not too long ago for the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was awarded Padma Shri in 2020 for his service and his analysis on HIV/AIDS. Selected from greater than 700 purposes, the 26 proposed SAGO members have experience in a variety of areas, together with epidemiology, animal well being, ecology, medical drugs, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, biology, meals security, biosafety, biosecurity, and public well being. The composition of the SAGO displays geographic and gender range, WHO mentioned.
The members are to serve of their private capacities to symbolize the broad vary of disciplines related to rising and re-emerging pathogens. In February, a WHO staff tasked with investigating Covid’s origins flew to China and concluded that the virus had in all probability come from bats however that extra work was wanted. The staff referred to as the lab leak concept “extraordinarily unlikely”. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, reacting to the announcement of the proposed members of the WHO SAGO, mentioned that China all the time maintains that origins-tracing is a severe and complicated scientific subject, which must be undertaken by scientists around the globe by means of joint analysis.
“China will proceed to help and take part in international scientific origins-tracing and firmly oppose any type of political manipulation,” he mentioned. “We hope that each one events involved, together with the WHO Secretariat and SAGO will undertake an goal, scientific and accountable angle, observe the necessities and related mandates of the WHA decision, take the primary part of joint examine as the premise, adhere to a worldwide perspective, carry out their duties in an goal and honest method, and actually make a constructive contribution to international origins-tracing and anti-epidemic cooperation,” Zhao added.
As per WHO processes, there’ll now be a two-week public session interval for WHO to obtain suggestions on the proposed SAGO members and set in place the modalities for the SAGO’s first assembly, which is deliberate to happen following this session interval. According to Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, over 239,341,500 confirmed circumstances have been reported globally whereas greater than 4,877,500 individuals have died because of the extremely virulent virus. PTI
Story first printed: Thursday, October 14, 2021, 22:11 [IST]