Amidst global coronavirus scare, the Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has said that India should step up research on communicable diseases and get into vaccine production.
Hinting at the rise in coronavirus cases in India, the biotechnology industry veteran also urged the government to rope in the private sector players to boost diagnostic capacity so that the spread can be significantly contained.
"Now we realize that it cannot be contained so easily," she said on the World Health Organisation's declaring COVID-19, a pandemic.
According to her, the response of the US and Europe has been very slow in containing it.
"Now that they are responding, they realize that it has spread quite a lot", Mazumdar-Shaw told PTI.
She further stressed on the unpreparedness to tackle the outbreak citing the fact that there are not enough diagnostic kits available for quick diagnosis.
"You can't even do a mass screening. Even in a country like the US, even though people are exhibiting all these symptoms, they are basically taking chest x-rays and quarantining them, " she said.
However, she noted that countries including China and parts of Asia such as Singapore have considerably contained it.
She also said that companies in India are taking immediate steps to prevent the spreading of the disease.
Biocon has started checking the temperatures of all the people entering its premises as a precautionary measure. The company is also willing to set up a testing facility for coronavirus.
Mazumdar-Shaw stressed the need for the Indian government to focus on diagnostics now.
"Because just restricting it to a few government labs is going to be very difficult for the government to deal with huge volumes that could pile up. Many of these could be negative but we have to check."
She reiterated that the private sector also should be roped in to offer some of these rapid tests.
Emphasizing on the importance of data, she said, "All this data is very important; if you don't have diagnostic kits and if you are second-guessing, then you are not going to get credible data on which to act."
On the impact of coronavirus on the Indian biotechnology industry, she said there was an opportunity for the sector to start seriously looking at these kinds of viral diseases.
So, these kinds of things are very important that we get into vaccine production in a big way, and getting understanding of viral epidemics is important, we need to a lot of studies on viruses", Mazumdar-Shaw said.