Science for Society: “Innovations at CSIR to combat Covid-19 Pandemic”

The ‘Science for Society’ series was launched on September 22 and the inaugural lecture was delivered by Dr. Shekhar Mande, Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India. Dr Mande spoke on the topic “Innovations at CSIR to combat Covid-19 Pandemic”. The welcome address for this event was delivered by the session Chairperson, Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, President, PIC and the session was moderated by Dr. Aravind Chinchure.

Dr. Mashelkar introduced the series by pointing out that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated rapid and adaptive decision-making by governments, for which they turned to scientists like Dr. Mande. The latter in their turn provided sound advice grounded in actionable science.

Dr Mande’s presentation was very inspiring and he spoke of the numerous, ground-breaking  technologies that were launched by CSIR laboratories to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that a task force at the CSIR had met every evening since March to plan and execute their strategies for innovative technologies.

Dr. Mande described how a Strategic Group was put in place to map CSIR’s strategic response to COVID-19. He outlined the two principles that CSIR followed for the implementation of this strategic response – the involvement of industry to scale up CSIR lab findings in order to make them available to the public, and the focus on using material or products that were either Made in India or available in the country (as imports could not be depended on given the global situation).

The focus was on five verticals – molecular surveillance, diagnostics, pharmaceutical interventions (drugs or vaccines), hospital devices, and supply chain and logistics.

Dr. Mande also spoke about the lessons learned by both CSIR, and industries during this period. He cited the example of how certain active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) have begun to be manufactured in India now, as other nations shored up their stores and curbed exports. In closing, he emphasised that the science pursued at CSIR has humanity as its guiding principle and that all the work done by them is in service to humanity.

Dr Mande said the Indian scientific community could stand up to the Covid-19 challenge because of the investments made in science and technology research by the country in the last 70 years.

Dr. Aravind Chinchure, Founder & CEO, QLeap Academy moderated the session and introduced Dr. Mande and CSIR’s innovative work on finding solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic.