History has revealed that nothing has killed more human beings than infectious diseases and Covid-19 shows the vulnerability of the human population. Covid-19 has reminded us that infectious diseases have not disappeared and new ones keep being added to the list year after year. A session on “Infectious Disease Pandemic – A Growing Threat to Humanity” was conducted at Elets 4th Virtual Diagnostic Leadership Summit which revolved around understanding present and future perspectives to deal with this colossal wave. Edited excerpts:
Moderate the session, Dr. Aarti Gupta, Area Manager, Laboratory Operations, SRL Limited, Fortis Memorial Research Institute said: “Due to the interaction of human and environmental factors, infectious diseases have spread faster than ever before. Many deliberations are mandated for the identification and treatment of these emerging pathogens.” She added: “The spectrum of human pathogens and infectious diseases is continually spreading due to evolution and environmental factors. There are a lot of international trips. In the beginning, things were local, then they became continental intercontinental and now it is globalization that causes infectious diseases to spread at a rapid rate.
Dr. Abhay Chowdhary, Professor and Head of Microbiology, DY PATIL University, School of Medicine, Hospital and Research Center, Navi Mumbai said: “It is important to know, to understand the drivers of infectious diseases and also to know how they evolve over time and cause pandemics. There is already a list of infectious diseases that may appear and change with geographic locations.
He expressed that Covid has made us realize that some uncertainties are beyond everyone’s control, but we can be prepared. “Preparation is the key. It has been making us understand emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases for more than three to four decades now and we see that almost 70 to 75% of these infectious diseases are of zoonotic origin and have a viral etiology. So there is a close relationship with these ideological factors, especially urbanization, deforestation, climate change, unhealthy lifestyles, abuse and so many other things that come up,” Dr. Abhay Chowdhary said.
Dr. Manisha Singh, HOD – Microbiology and Serology, Vijaya Diagnostic Center articulated, “We are seeing the emergence and re-emergence of disease. Human factors such as urbanization and global travel play a huge role in the spread of infectious diseases. Unplanned migration during wars or disasters, reforestation, dietary habits, multi-drug resistance are also some of the key factors in the rise of infectious diseases.
She added that Covid has been a good learning subject for all of us and we have also seen new variants and this is due to either reassortment of mutations or recombination in viruses. She said that communication of information and education are three crucial aspects. There is a need to raise awareness and add that social media can be used to spread correct information about infectious diseases. “Prevention is better than cure. We should be vaccinated against all available infections. Information, education and communication are important in mitigating the pandemic,” said Dr Manisha Singh.
Dr. Neha Rathor, Consultant Microbiologist, Senior Quality Manager HICC Chairman, QRG Medicare “Preparing for any pandemic is a huge challenge. The most important preparation is to strengthen basic infrastructure and health infrastructure. In addition, you have to work with a lot of agility to mitigate a disaster by communicating well. We can also provide quick vaccinations and also focus on routine vaccinations. Building diagnostic capacity can also help contain the outbreak or pandemic.
She affirmed that when a pandemic starts, we are required to work with great agility. “So we have to put out the sparks and prevent them from spreading further. And that requires a lot of public messaging and coordinated efforts from all agencies. Prompt communication will help reduce infectious diseases,” she added. “The Arogya Setu app is a very good example of using technology to provide solutions and predictions. The use of wearable devices also increased after the pandemic and helped predict and prevent pandemics,” commented Dr. Neha Rathor.
Dr Disha Bhatia, Country Manager, Microbiology and Serology, CORE Diagnostics said: “We have all launched tech-intensive solutions thanks to covid. From test platform to reporting, we quickly moved towards automation. However, AI-based solutions that look at the whole supply chain scenario holistically are needed for better access to a wider population. She said there is a need to embrace AI-based solutions that take a holistic look at the whole supply chain picture. “The time between data collection and the dissemination of information that can guide public health measures needs to be improved.” Dr. Disha Bhatia rang.
Sukrut Jobanputra, Director, Institute of Advanced Genomics and Laboratory Medicine, (LABASSURE) said: “Using genomics technology, we can study pathogens at a molecular level which is the basis of research. However, genomics must be used in integration with other technologies. We will see an improvement in the infrastructure of genomic capabilities in the times to come. He further stated that predicting the future is always very risky. There must be a continuous strengthening of our technical capacities. After the pandemic is over, health care is not getting the attention it deserves. “We also need to improve dialogue and interaction between different stakeholders. There also needs to be a more free and fair exchange of information between different stakeholders in formal or informal forums. Also, the pricing of the tests requires a lot more dialogue and discussion,” shared Sukrut Jobanputra.