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Indian Government tells US CDC to stop funding Nipah research in India.

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  • Ronan Kelly
    replied
    Very detailed piece. Go read the whole thing - Ro

    As Paranoia Goes Viral in Govt Health Circles, Testing Labs Face the Heat
    Experts have rubbished government officials' allegations that, thanks to availability of foreign funds, a prominent research facility might have had an opportunity to weaponise the Nipah virus.


    Priyanka Pulla

    GOVERNMENTHEALTH
    3 HOURS AGO
    Bengaluru: After the controversy over the study of filoviruses among bats in Nagaland, brought about by unclear allegations from government health bodies pertaining to foreign collaborations, another important research facility has been dragged into a similar dispute, this time over handling of Nipah viruses during the outbreak in Kerala in 2018, the alleged potential for its weaponisation and the lab’s tie-up with a US federal agency.

    Karnataka’s Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) has staunchly denied the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s allegations that the laboratory was storing Nipah virus samples without being equipped to do so. Hindustan Times first reported these allegations on Friday, and also quoted health ministry officials as saying MCVR lacked government permission to carry out a large multi-year fever surveillance study.

    The fever study, known as the Acute Febrile Illness project, was funded by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Given the foreign involvement, the Hindustan Times report said, government officials were worried the lab’s work could be misused to develop bioweapons.

    Arunkumar Govindakarnavar, the virologist who headed MCVR’s fever project, told The Wire that his lab had transferred all Nipah samples to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in July 2018 – soon after Kerala’s first Nipah outbreak concluded. He also said ICMR and the health ministry had been closely involved in reviewing the fever project since its inception in 2014.

    “Everything we did was with the knowledge of ICMR and the health ministry. I have several emails from ICMR appreciating our work. I am not sure why this has happened,” Govindakarnavar said.
    ...

    Experts have rubbished government officials' allegations that, thanks to availability of foreign funds, a prominent research facility might have had an opportunity to weaponise the Nipah virus.

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  • Indian Government tells US CDC to stop funding Nipah research in India.

    ‘Halt Nipah project with Indian lab’: Govt tells US health agency
    CDC, America’s front line public health agency, has partnered with Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) to carry out illness surveillance across India
    INDIA Updated: Feb 07, 2020 01:04 IST
    Sudhi Ranjan Sen

    Hindustan Times, New Delhi

    India has asked the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop funding research in India without government approval after the agency appeared to have helped an under-qualified Indian laboratory to work on the Nipah virus, a pathogen that is considered a potential bio-weapon, according to officials and government documents accessed by HT.

    CDC, America’s front line public health agency, has partnered with Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) to carry out illness surveillance across India, and government officials who asked not to be named said the agency seems to have helped MCVR study the Nipah virus, a pathogen that belongs to Risk Group 4 (RG4) classification.
    ...
    To be sure, MCVR was designated by the government of Kerala as one of the testing agencies for the Nipah virus during the outbreak.

    The concern at present, the two officials cited above said, were related to more detailed studies of the virus and of funding that was not approved by the government.
    ...
    The note added: “Since Nipah is a high-risk pathogen with a potential of being used as Agent of bio-terrorism the samples were to be handled more carefully and tested in a BSL-IV laboratory and not in MCVR… The lapse on part of MCVR in handling Nipah virus samples with active support from CDC has been viewed separately by the ministry of health and family welfare … Therefore, CDC is advised to stop all funding of MCVR/Manipal University …Similarly, funding for any other research activity in the country that is not approved by the ICMR should be stopped immediately.”
    ...
    MCVR denied that it had carried out research into the virus, saying it had carried out detection tests when the outbreak took place and had been asked by the health ministry to stop doing so when the outbreak was deemed over in 2018.

    “No virus isolation was done at MIV (Manipal Institute of Virology). Samples were sent to ICMR-NIV Pune for virus isolation work at their BSL-4 laboratory. We have observed/implemented all safety precautions while processing the samples,” said a statement from the office of the Vice Chancellor of Manipal University.

    The university said that its work related to risky viruses conform to World Health Organization diagnostic protocols, which includes the pathogens being “inactivated by lysis buffer” before being processed.
    ...
    CDC, America’s front line public health agency, has partnered with Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) to carry out illness surveillance across India

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