Published: 26th March 2020
Hundreds of research scholars working at chem, bio labs across India want to help test COVID-19. But the govt isn't letting them
Hundreds of researchers from Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Varanasi, Kolkata, Mohali and even tier-II and tier-III cities are willing to contribute as volunteers in any way possible
Research scholars working with pieces of equipment that are used for testing the novel Coronavirus at chemistry, biotechnology and even physics labs from across India say they would be able and are willing to help the clinics and personnel with the testing equipment — train them properly and also work with them. But they need the government's permission to do so. They have written to various ministries but have not received any reply yet.
Hundreds of researchers from Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Varanasi, Kolkata, Mohali and even tier-II and tier-III cities are willing to contribute as volunteers in any way possible. "We have expertise in molecular diagnosis — clinical sample handling, RNA isolation, cDNA preparation and RT-PCR data analysis. We handle such complicated equipment day in and day out in our labs. We learn and perform experiments with these types of equipment on a daily basis," said Vikas Shukla, who is working on Nanomedicine and chronic inflammatory diseases at the Department of Zoology of the Delhi University. "If we possess a skill set that can help the nation in a dire situation like this shouldn't we be allowed to help? We need approval so that we can go and help as volunteers. I understand that this involves a virus and we need to know the protocol. We can start our work with a dummy sample as well for the training," he added.
Harsha, a postgraduate in Optoelectronics and Communications from Thrissur in Kerala wants to be a part of this as well. "I want to help out in any way I can," she wrote to the researchers. But she cannot move out. She is a nursing mother of 10-month-old twins. "This is the only way we can give back to our society right now and I want to be a part of the process," she added.
The CSIR-CCMB has been training medical staff to handle the testing process of Coronavirus but Nikhil Gupta, a Research Fellow at the Centre of Biomedical Research, SGPGI, Lucknow says that the researchers can learn the procedures faster. "We already have the training to handle such equipment. We can learn faster and even spread the knowledge. We can train others when we have the know-how of the equipment. So why not trains? Won't it be more efficient?" he asked.
The researchers have written to Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Minister of Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Science and the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India (PSA). He has also written to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath to allow them to participate in this war against the virus that has affected 562 individuals and claimed nine lives till now. They are now waiting for the government's green signal to start their work.