Dec 20Featured ArticleIssue

Healthcare Leader: Sriram Natarajan

Director, Molbio Diagnostics

The pandemic – realistically speaking, threw all other facets of life out of gear. It was chaos, to say the least. Even the otherwise busy IVD industry – dominated by laboratory testing and other procedures took a hit. As indicated by a drop in revenues – most facets of laboratory testing either diminish substantially or stopped as resources were mobilised for COVID-19 testing. Even emergency testing such as screening of blood in blood banks etc. was hit and patients from non-covid sector took a back seat.Challenges faced ranged from getting appropriate diagnostic tests and then scale them up to meet demands to providing more ventilators and critical care equipment to COVID wards to save lives. Making provision for medical grade oxygen was also a challenge.

As cases picked up – adding to the number of existing COVID beds (read ICU) in both public and private hospitals were a challenge. The temporary set up was created within stadiums with full medical facilities to accommodate more cases, as numbers increased.Truenat COVID-19 test is surely one of the innovations during this pandemic. It has enabled molecular testing using innovative RT-PCR tests be made available from Arunachal in the East to Leh Ladakh in the North. Every state was able to deploy this state-of-the-art innovation in a district-wise fashion to ensure that everyone who needed to be tested with RT-PCR – got tested. This not only saved on logistics on sample transport but also to an extent reduced the burden on Central Laboratories from being inundated with test requests.

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Over five million Truenat COVID tests have already been utilised.Other innovations like FELUDA also needs a mention – however, their utility will only be gauged once they commercially hit the market.Similarly, innovations in low-cost ventilators, cost-effective but good quality PPE kits — the repurposing of certain medicines are all innovations that the medical fraternity successfully tried in combating this pathogen – about which still, we know so little about.Vaccines, requiring more than six to seven years, are being innovated in ways to come out in a year. So innovations all around, I guess.The pandemic is far from being over. Yet as time passes and we begin to understand lesser lives may be lost if the human race behaves responsibly. Once the vaccination process starts and completes, we will know in time, what the future is likely to be. As the effects of vaccinations start showing up- we hope more lives will be saved – the severe disease will be lesser. But the pandemic can be beaten only with a combination of vaccines, drugs and most importantly, responsible human behavioural changes of abiding by the rules.COVID-19 is not going to be the last pandemic afflicting the human race – yet the world as a whole would have learnt that ultimately it would be prudent to augment healthcare facilities for the human race – as no money, power and military is good enough when the enemy is invisible – and the enemy is everywhere.Hopefully -priorities of humans will change – where one would be more inclined to live life with nature as a partner – and benefit from such an association.

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