For the ICMR-National Institute of Virology (Pune), it has been a roller coaster ride ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in January 2020, when the first positive case was reported in the country and the lab had confirmed and later cultured the virus in early March, said Director Priya Abraham on Thursday.
Apart from reporting the first positive case and culturing the virus, the institute scientists were able to develop and distribute RT-PCR kits across the country and even internationally, she explained, delivering the Dr.Yellapragada Subba Row memorial lecture entitled “Covid Pandemic: The Journey so far” at the Zakir Hussain memorial lecture hall complex, University of Hyderabad (UoH).
The NIV scientists were also involved in training, capacity building, validation of kits and reagents, distribution, development and testing of antibody assays, providing live and attenuated whole virus for vaccine development and serum studies, conducting pre-clinical and clinical trials including sero-surveillance even while taking up genomic surveillance for variants, said Dr. Abraham.
The NIV had contributed to the first two SARS-CoV2 genome sequences from India, which was shared with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). She lauded her team and said all this could be possible only with their “self-less and wholehearted commitment and determination”.
UoH’s school of medical sciences had been organising the annual memorial lecture for the last seven years, save for the pandemic years. Extolling the virtues of Dr. Yellapragada Subba Row, Dean Geeta K. Vemuganti gave an overview of his seminal contribution to the field of health care, medicine and society.
Vice-Chancellor Prof. B.J. Rao said that UoH has recognised Dr. Subba Row by dedicating a conference hall in his name and rekindling memory of the “unsung hero” by organising the yearly memorial lecture. He thanked Dr. Abraham for the talk and pointed out that she continues to be in the forefront of tackling the pandemic, said a press release.