Coronavirus Update: Govt Identifies 500 Companies To Map Covid-19 Solutions

The government has identified at least 500 entities in the field of diagnostics, drugs, ventilators, protection gear, disinfecting systems,etc, as an effort to map coronavirus disease (Covid-19) related technology capabilities in start-ups, academia, research and development labs and industry, in an effort to bolster its ability to contain the spread of the pandemic in the country.

At least 200 proposals have been received in the past one week against the funding calls of the department of science and technology (DST), from which over 20 entities are under active consideration for support in the first phase, taking into account the relevance, cost, speed and scale of solutions to manage the disease outbreak, the government said on Tuesday.

“The manufacturing capacity of the first indigenous kit developed by a Pune-based start up is being scaled up to produce nearly one lakh kits per week. A manufacturing facility for indigenous development of ventilators, testing kits, imaging equipment and ultrasound and high end radiology equipment has been set up in Vishakhapatnam where manufacturing will start in the first week of April,” said the health ministry in a statement.

The DBT (department of biotechnology, a department within the DST), along with Drug Controller General of India, has developed and notified a Rapid Response Regulatory Framework to provide expedited regulatory approvals for all diagnostics drugs and vaccines.

“Vaccine development is being supported with three Indian industries. Research on therapeutic and drug development has started,” said the statement.

NovaLead Pharma, the Pune-based company that specialises in drug repurposing, has identified 42 existing drugs that may be helpful to patients in treating the coronavirus disease (Covid-19.)

In a statement, the company said that it has deployed its proprietary computational technology for identifying existing drugs that may be potentially effective against the SARS-Cov2, the virus that causes Covid-19, as well as for minimising the disease impact on human body.

The company, through a complex and extensive computational study, involving 2010 approved drugs and 30 potential viral and human targets, has identified a list of 42 existing drugs for further analysis.

“Use of existing drugs already approved by the regulators can offer a huge relief in the short to medium term, if found effective against Covid 19. The major advantage with this approach is that the drugs being approved are already proved to be safe for humans, are being actively manufactured and, therefore, can be immediately put to use in a very short time,” said Supreet Deshpande, CEO, NovaLead Pharma, in a statement.

Dr Sudhir Kulkarni, head of research, NovaLead Pharma, said, “Novalead is pursuing a multi-pronged strategy involving multiple scientific computational approaches. We have completed three phases of rational computational screenings and our discoveries so far include drugs that show promise as effective treatment either by directly attacking the virus proteins or by empowering the human proteins to minimise its spread. Our research effort shall continue to further shortlist candidates for specific stages of infection by SARS-Cov-2 virus including those reaching the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) stage.”

If successful, it can save lives and also prevent early infections from turning critical.

“Repurposing already existing drug molecules is preferred, especially during an outbreak situation, because it is faster. Developing a new drug is a time-consuming effort,” said Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, chief, epidemiology and communicable diseases division, Indian Council of Medical Research.-Hindustan Times

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