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India coronavirus dispatch: The search for a cure, and India's response

From the SARS-CoV-2 strain in India, to migrant workers in this lockdown, and whether ultraviolet light can help detect and kill coronavirus - read these and more in today's India dispatch

Coronavirus | healthcare | health care

Sarah Farooqui  |  New Delhi 

A health workers collects sample from a pregnant woman for Covid-19 test at Sadar Hospital in Ranchi. Photo: PTI
A health workers collects sample from a pregnant woman for Covid-19 test at Sadar Hospital in Ranchi. Photo: PTI

Here is a round-up of important articles from across Indian publications on Covid-19. From the SARS-CoV-2 strain in India, to migrant workers in this lockdown, and whether ultraviolet light can help detect and kill – read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

Nothing unusual about SARS-CoV-2 in India that makes it more or less virulent: The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has been designated as a validating lab for companies to get their RT-PCR or antibody tests validated and sold in India. Read this interview with its director, Rakesh K Mishra, on CCMB’s work on next-generation sequencing, pool testing, antibody testing, the need for private companies to pick up the research being done by CCMB, and whether there is anything starkly different about the SARS-CoV-2 strain in India.

UP labour law ordinance: Sweeping labour reforms announced by states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have come in for strong criticism by many. Labour economist Dr Shyam Sundar believes it is an extremely retrograde step that puts the rights and safety of India’s labour force at risk. Pradeep Bhargava, who is past president of the Employer Federation of India and past chair of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Committee on Industrial Relations, says that the changes announced by the Madhya Pradesh government are positive and will help industry function in a more professional and independent manner. Watch this interview to understand both sides of the argument.

Citizens Under Lockdown

‘Unless emergency, one may want to rethink return’: State governments have slowly opened up borders to allow natives working in other states to return home. A travel pass is required and needs to be furnished at the state borders, where officials check details of travellers, and record their temperature. If any individual reports a high temperature or is not able not furnish a pass, they are barred from entering the state. Read here about how in such a situation, people are caught between two state borders.

Long Reads

Migrant workers, the and the judiciary: The millions of migrants who have lost their livelihoods have a fundamental right to life of dignity. The refusal of the Government of India to provide comprehensive support and the Supreme Court’s ruling on a petition seeking relief have left them adrift. Read more here.


Kerala has competently dealt with Covid-19, too: Successive governments have provided improved funding at different tiers of government institutions. This has been facilitated in recent years by committed political leadership in the health sector, supported by competent bureaucracy, helping Kerala weather repeated challenges posed in recent years by two devastating floods and a threat of the Nipah virus. Read here on why Kerala is able to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shaping India’s response in a global hinge moment: What should India’s response to the new situation be? Fear leads some to suggest alliances. Some Indians are so worried by what they see as an unstoppable China that they advocate that India enter into an alliance with the US. Former security advisor Shivshankar Menon explains what India’s response should be going ahead and why India is much greater and more resilient than people think.

Managing Covid-19

Train or no train, many migrants can only walk home from Karnataka: For 48 hours, the Karnataka government had suspended the train service for migrant workers who wanted to return home. By the time the government reversed its decision, thousands of migrant workers were already walking home. Despite the government restarting trains, many fear they won't get a seat on a train even if they wait. Some have no money to buy a train ticket, which costs anything between Rs 800 and Rs 1,100. Read more here.

India to develop ‘fully indigenous’ Covid-19 vaccine; ICMR partners with Bharat Biotech: India on Saturday officially entered the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced a tie-up with the International Ltd for the development of a “fully indigenous vaccine for Covid-19”.According to a statement issued by ICMR, “the virus strain isolated at” the Institute of Virology laboratory in Pune will be used to develop the vaccine. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

The search for a cure: In the Covid-19 story, there are three possibilities that lie ahead. One, communities develop immunity against the disease. Two, a drug is invented to contain the disease. And three, a vaccine is made available. At the earliest, we are 12-18 months away from developing a vaccine for Read here on why the global efforts raise hope that we could emerge on the other side of the pandemic.

Scientists suspect that your genes decide how your body reacts to coronavirus: When some people become infected with coronavirus, they only develop mild or undetectable cases of Covid-19. Others suffer severe symptoms, fighting to breathe on a ventilator for weeks, if they survive at all. Despite a concerted global scientific effort, doctors still lack a clear picture of why this is so. Could genetic differences explain the difference we see in symptoms and severity of Covid-19? Read more here.

Can ultraviolet light help detect and kill the coronavirus? Scientists are studying the use of ultraviolet germicidal radiation (UVGI) to detect the virus in schools, restaurants and other public places. Through this method, ultraviolet lights would be able to disinfect contaminated public spaces to stop the transmission of the virus. Read more here.

First Published: Mon, May 11 2020. 06:22 IST