Govt. report flags lapses in “filovirus study” among Nagaland bats

What is the News?

The government of India has concluded that there have been lapses in the conduct and protocols followed for the filovirus study of bats in Nagaland.

What was the filovirus study about?
  • Researchers from India, China and the US had conducted a study in Nagaland on bats and humans carrying antibodies to deadly viruses like Ebola.
    • From India, the National Centre for Biological Sciences(NCBS) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research(TIFR) participated in the study.
  • Findings: The study found the presence of filovirus reactive antibodies in human and bat populations in northeast India. Hence, the study suggested that Bats in South Asia act as reservoir hosts of a diverse range of filoviruses.

Note:

  • Filoviruses belong to a virus family called Filoviridae and can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates.
  • So far, three varieties of this virus family have been identified: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus.
Significance of this filovirus study:
  • The findings of the study became significant given the debate over the origins of COVID-19 worldwide and the handling of bat samples at the Wuhan Institute laboratory.
  • However, scientific experts and officials have made it clear that the Nagaland bat study on filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg) was in no way related to the coronavirus(SARS) studies at Wuhan.
Government of India’s inquiry into filovirus study:
  • The Government of India had ordered an inquiry in 2020 into this study. The inquiry investigated how the scientists were allowed to access live samples of bats and bat hunters (humans) without due permission.
  • The inquiry concluded that there have been lapses in the conduct and the protocols followed by the study. The lapses include:
    • Firstly, the study did not have the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR)
    • Secondly, the Bangalore based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is not equipped in terms of Biosafety and Biosecurity for testing samples.

Source: The Hindu

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