An elite team of over 30 doctors and scientists has been put together earlier this month. Their primary and vital role is to advice the Prime Minister on the coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Modi’s action plan to combat the outbreak in the country has so far seen mixed reactions. However tough the measures to reinforce the capabilities of the healthcare system are it is a need of the hour.
The team of doctors and scientists have been divided into two special groups. One consisting of health experts and another of scientists. The team’s vital task is to advise the PM on every
technical policy decision in the book regarding the pandemic. It is also tasked with assessing the nature of the outbreak, and the casualties eventually.
The first group, constituted on 18 March, is headed by NITI Aayog member Dr V.K. Paul. It has 20 other members. The other group is headed by principal scientific advisor K. Vijay Raghavan and has nine other members. Their first meeting of this group was held on 21 March.
Both groups are in constant touch with P.K.Mishra, the principal secretary to the PM, who briefs Modi about their decisions and recommendations. This data is pivotal to the crisis management team to strategize and take appropriate precautions.
With the novel corona virus claiming 18 lives and infecting 753 people so far, a lot of hopes are pinned on this team to help combat this outbreak.
The brain behind the lockdown
The team consisting of doctors and health experts, is being referred to as the ‘Corona Task Force’ lead by V.K. Paul. The team, comprises Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava, and public health experts in microbiology.
Also a part of the task force are scientists and ICMR infectious disease experts Dr Raman Gangakhedkar and Dr Nivedita Gupta. They have been actively discussing technical and test findings of Covid- 19.
The other members on the Team are from ICMR’s Institute of Epidemiology, handling the mathematical modelling of the disease and determining the nature and spread of coronavirus.
This is the group that suggested and even asserted moves like the nationwide lockdown. The team is also responsible for assessing the effects of the virus, the measures to mitigate its impact, data reviews and analysis.
While PM Modi was initially worried about the economic impact of a lockdown, the Corona Task Force team assured him that the move was imperative to contain the spread of the virus.
Practicing social distancing at any given time no more than 4 – 5 members of the team convene together. Their findings, conclusions and suggestions are communicated to PMO or are even called to the PMO office.
The scientific group
According to an official statement, the second group coordinates, with science agencies, scientists and regulatory bodies, and take speedy decisions on R&D to implementation related to the SARS-Cov-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease.
The team led jointly by V.K. Paul and K. VijayRaghavan, consists of ICMR researchers, secretaries from the department of science and technology, biotechnology, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, Defence Research and Development Organisation.
To research, test and understand the behaviour of the virus the Team suggested, all national laboratories to carry out clinical testing of COVID-19 across India. Together the team has been assisting PM Modi in deciding matters related to science, technology and research.