India has become the fifth country in the world after Japan, Thailand, USA and China to successfully isolate the life-threatening Covid-19 strain. The feat was achieved by the scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune where 11 strains of the Covid-19 were isolated from a patient.

“The strains are the prerequisite for conducting any research related to viruses,” said Raman R. Gangakhedkar, head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases division of the Indian Council of Medical Research. This is hailed as the first step towards the development of drugs and vaccines against the pandemic by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

According to reports, the isolated strain has a 99.98% match with the virus in China’s Wuhan. This significant medical breakthrough will help India in developing a vaccine for the deadly Coronavirus. Although it will still take one and a half to two years to develop a vaccine, even if the trial procedures are expedited.

Till now, 6,500 samples of 5,900 individuals have been tested and 83 people have tested positive for the virus. 7 patients have been successfully recovered. Scientist Gangakhedkar informed that only routine medicines were used in the treatment, unlike China that used anti-retroviral drugs (HIV drugs) on some patients. The Indian Government had informed that a span of 1.5 to 2 years would be required to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

ICMR is working in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and family welfare, and other Government Departments. The number of labs for primary testing of Covid-19 has been increased to 65 from 51. Labs designed for a second confirmatory test have also been expanded to 31.

Wuhan coronavirus or COVID-19 that originated in China has claimed over 5,440 lives and infected around 1.5 lakh people till now. Earlier, PM Modi had taken to Twitter to make an appeal to the leaders of the SAARC countries to come together to chalk out an effective strategy against the Coronavirus. He added that discussions can be held via video conferencing to keep the citizens healthy. PM Modi also said that the united and synchronised efforts can set an example for the world to emulate and contribute towards building a healthier planet.

The pandemic has forced even the Indian State Governments to swing into action. All schools and colleges in Uttar Pradesh have been closed till March 22. The Haryana Government declared Covid-19 as a state epidemic. 270 isolation wards had been set up along with 1,206 beds in both private and government hospitals. 

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, during an emergency meeting of State Ministers and senior officials, announced that all malls, cinema halls, pubs, wedding ceremonies have been banned for another one week beginning March 14. The Odisha Government has sanctioned an amount of ₹200 crores to deal with the situation. The Delhi government had announced that IPL and other sports events will not be allowed in the national capital, and ordered that movie halls and schools will remain closed. BCCI has also postponed the IPL and cancelled the remaining matches in the one day series between India and South Africa.