Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Modi-BJP-Sangh Start Weighing In On the nCoV Wee Phuk Yu SNAFU


TheHindu |  The government has ordered an inquiry into a study conducted in Nagaland by researchers from the U.S., China and India on bats and humans carrying antibodies to deadly viruses like Ebola, officials confirmed to The Hindu.

The inquiry comes as officials worldwide grapple with the spread of novel coronavirus 2019, from Wuhan, China, to 20 countries, that has resulted in over 300 deaths.

The study came under the scanner as two of the 12 researchers belonged to the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Department of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and it was funded by the United States Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). They would have required special permissions as foreign entities.

The study, conducted by scientists of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in the U.S. and the Duke-National University in Singapore, is now being investigated for how the scientists were allowed to access live samples of bats and bat hunters (humans) without due permissions. The results of the study were published in October last in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases journal, originally established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) sent a five-member committee to investigate. The inquiry is complete, and a report has been submitted to the Health Ministry,” a senior government official told The Hindu.

The U.S. Embassy and the Union Health Ministry declined to comment on the inquiry. In a written reply to questions from The Hindu, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta said it “did not commission this study and had not received any enquiries [from the Indian government] on it.” An American official, however, suggested that the U.S. Department of Defense might not have coordinated the study through the CDC.

The study, ‘Filovirus-reactive antibodies in humans and bats in Northeast India imply Zoonotic spillover’, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases states the researchers found “the presence of filovirus (e.g. ebolavirus, marburgvirus and dianlovirus) reactive antibodies in both human (e.g. bat hunters) and bat populations in Northeast India, a region with no historical record of Ebola virus disease.”

Bats often carry ebola, rabies, marburg and the SARS coronavirus.