Not a single research paper from State on COVID-19

Scientists say attempts to initiate clinical research shot down by authorities

Kerala turned its back on its scientific community and academia and totally ignored scholastic and clinical research during an entire year of the pandemic. And that is a huge negative on the State’s balance sheet on COVID-19.

How strange is it that in a State, which proudly claims to have embraced science every step of the way to “flatten the epidemic curve,” not a single research paper, either observational or clinical, has come out of the portals of any of its scientific institutions or medical colleges, through the year?

The only solid research done during the period, a pilot genomic surveillance study at Kozhikode Medical College, was done by the Delhi-based IGIB, and it also encouraged the State government to initiate a proper genomic surveillance study across districts.

Original strain

“The very first case of COVID-19, that too, the original virus strain from Wuhan, was first reported in Kerala. Some of us who excitedly submitted proposals for epidemiological studies and genomic sequencing were totally disappointed by the State’s response,” a senior scientist said.

“We have no dearth of scientific institutions or inquisitive minds. Our medical colleges have had an year’s experience in treating COVID-19 patients, including some miraculous saves. Yet, all attempts to initiate clinical research or clinical trials were shot down saying that we needed Indian Council of Medical Research’s approval. We even offered to bring together a brilliant team for research but the government was not keen,” a public health expert said

“Kerala could have had a very informed response to the pandemic had we explored more. A new disease, COVID-19 would have been a huge learning experience. But that is one lost opportunity which the authorities do not even want to see,” he added.

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