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Integrated Health Info Platform:

  • The new version of the Integrated Health Information Platform will consist of the data entry as well as the management of the disease surveillance program.
  • The platform will be able to track 33 diseases now, compared to the earlier 18 diseases. It will also ensure near real-time data in digital mode, removing the paper mode of working.
  • IHIP will provide health system information that has been developed for real-time case-based information, advanced visualization capability, and integrated analytics.
  • It will be able to provide analyzed reports on mobile or any other electronic device.
  • The outbreak investigation activities can also be commenced and monitored electronically.
  • IHIP can also be easily integrated with another ongoing surveillance program.
  • The WHO Representative to India, Dr. Roderico Ofrin termed this as a historic day not only for India but for global public health. He added that the platform for digital surveillance will help in providing and connecting data and will facilitate moving towards the ‘One Health’ approach.
  • The refined Integrated health Information Platform with the automated data will help in a big way in real-time data collection. It will assist in analysis and data aggregation that will allow evidence-based policymaking.
  • An advanced digital platform for identifying the earliest signs of disease spread in small blocks or villages will be extremely helpful in investigating any potential outbreak or epidemic.
  • Accurate, reliable and timely information is crucial for a country such as India which has a population of 1.35 billion.
  • India’s information system for precision public health is essential for delivering ‘the right intervention at the right time, every time to the right population.’
  • The use of technology to enhance precision in public health, including the use of pathogen genomics, enhanced surveillance and informatics, and targeted interventions has steadily gone up,  he cautioned that the success of this platform will also depend primarily on the quality of data shared by the states.
  • With IHIP, collection of authentic data will become easy as it comes directly from the village/block level; the last mile from the country. With its implementation, we are fast marching towards Atma Nirbha Bharat in healthcare through use of technology.
  • In terms of the geographical coverage of the surveillance, along with the number of diseases covered and the quantum of data generated, this makes IHIP one of the largest such digital health platforms globally.
  • Data will be provided in real time through the grassroots healthcare workers through their gadgets (tablets); the doctors at the PHC/CHC/SHD/DH when the citizens seek healthcare; and the diagnostic labs which will provide data on the tests carried out.

‘Rapamycin’ A drug that can be repurposed to treat Covid-19:

  • Currently, there are no universally approved drugs for the treatment of COVID-19. There is a worldwide scramble to find drugs for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Now researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal and the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, Nebraska, (UNMC), USA have identified Rapamycin as a potential drug that can be repurposed to treat COVID-19.
  • Rapamycin used to prevent organ rejection after transplants and in cancer treatment, was found to have anti-aging effect and the potential to treat COVID-19 patients, researchers said.
  • Researchers showed that the biochemical working of this drug molecule points to its promise in the treatment of COVID-19.
  • The paper elaborates on the rationale of repurposing this drug for treating COVID-19 patients. Since the repurposed drug has gone through the clinical development process for the treatment of other diseases and has already been tested for toxicity, many steps in preclinical and early clinical development can be avoided and the drug can be directly tested on COVID-19 subjects in phase-II trials.
  • The development of a new drug is time-consuming and cannot be relied on as a solution in combating the immediate pandemic. Drug repurposing is an attractive solution, wherein, an existing drug used to treat another related or unrelated ailment may be tested against COVID-19
  • An example of such a repurposed drug is Remdesivir. It was originally developed to treat Hepatitis C infection. The drug has shown limited success in treating COVID-19 patients.
  • Identification of more such drugs is important given the scale of the pandemic. Rapamycin works differently from Remdesivir. While the latter targets the virus itself, this Rapamycin targets the host proteins and may resist the infection.
  • Using repurposed drug such as Rapamycin that targets mTOR, a central molecule affecting multiple signalling pathways, may yield a significant clinical benefit for the treatment of COVID-19.
  • One of the main challenges in developing antiviral drugs for COVID-19 has been the extensive mutations that the virus undergoes, which makes one antiviral drug ineffective against another mutant, and the development of drug-resistant strains.
  • Treatment with drugs such as Rapamycin will not face that problem because it acts on host proteins and not on the virus. Rapamycin inhibits protein synthesis and can also arrest virus replication, irrespective of the type of mutant.
  • At a biochemical level, apart from inhibiting protein synthesis, Rapamycin has been known to inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is known that severe COVID-19 infection results in an increase in inflammatory cytokines in a process known as the ‘cytokine storm’.
  • The inhibitory action of Rapamycin towards cytokines also makes it a promising treatment for COVID-19.
  • Besides, Rapamycin is known to reduce obesity through various pathways and this can help in mitigating the severity of COVID-19 effects in obese people.
  • Furthermore, Rapamycin is known to induce autophagy, a cellular recycling process that helps in eliminating the damaged proteins and delaying aging. Given the connection between age and COVID mortality, i.e. more fatalities with older people, the anti-aging properties of Rapamycin can have protective effects against COVID-10-induced morbidities.

Zydus Cadila sought permission to use hepatitis drug for Covid 19:

  • Zydus Cadila has received restricted emergency use approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI)V.G. Somani for the use of ‘Virafin’, a pegylated interferon alpha-2b, to treat moderate covid-19 infection in adults.
  • It was originally used in treating Hepatitis B and C, and is administered in a single dose subcutaneous regimen.
  • When administered early in treating covid patients, Virafin can help faster recovery and avoid much of the complications, the company said. It will be available on the prescription of a medical specialist for use in a hospital and institutional setups.
  • The fact that we are able to offer a therapy which significantly reduces viral load when given early on can help in better disease management. It comes at a much-needed time for patients and we will continue to provide them access to critical therapies in this battle against covid-19.
  • Earlier this month, Zydus had sought authorization from the DCGI for the additional indication of hepatitis drug for treating covid-19. It had provided data from its phase 3 clinical trials across 20-25 centers in India, which showed that 91.15% of patients treated with Virafin were RT-PCR negative by the seventh day, as compared to 78.9% for standard care.