Covid-19: Don’t panic, no new variant of concern observed, says ICMR top official

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Additional Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Samiran Panda (Photo/ANI)

NEW DELHLI: Panic does not serve as a Covid-19 pandemic response or public health response as it does not help analyse data, therefore, it doesn’t serve any purpose, said Dr Samiran Panda, Additional Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

In an Exclusive Interview with ANI, Panda said, “Panic does not serve as a pandemic response or public health response because it does not help to analyse the data or looking carefully.”

“It is about examining the data very carefully. So, if from a particular site or from a district or a few districts in the state upsurges or peak is being observed, then we need to look at the number of tests conducted in that area. The local data needs to be examined carefully for local level decision-making,” he added.

He stated, “The surge in cases doesn’t mean it’s reported from all over the country, it’s from a few districts. We are talking about 7,000 cases or a little more than this across India. But that is not true, it is a summation of the numbers of positive cases recorded from a few districts. So, that should not be considered as the total numbers for the country or that the rise is happening uniformly across the country,” he further said.

He also stressed on closely monitoring Covid-19 cases at the local or district level. He said, “Examining the data carefully, where can we have relevance local level or the district level is important rather than extrapolating it over one state or the entire country.”

On Thursday, the Union Health Ministry wrote a letter to Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala to follow a five-fold strategy, Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and do adequate testing.

According to Dr Panda such initiatives plays an important role. “I would say that these kinds of letters are actually a very good public health tool in terms of encouraging the local health authorities to examine the data to understand how is the disease transmission dynamic happens and also the local administration to think how to encourage people Covid-appropriate behaviour, because while the data will be examined and upsurge, the observed upsurge will be analysed.”

On the threat of another variant, he said, “Threat can only be characterised once a new variant is identified. So whenever a new variant is observed, it is called a variant of interest or variant under investigation and variant concern, but not every variant turned out to be a variant of concern. Nothing of that sort is being observed.”

“Those who are elderly and who have comorbidities, or who are suffering from let’s say, cancer or getting treated with immunosuppressive therapy, not necessarily because of Covid only but also It’s better if the special subgroups are protected against tuberculosis, air pollution or other respiratory tract infections,” said Dr Panda. Special care needs to be taken for the elderly population, he added. (ANI)

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