Parliamentary panel underscores need for government to formulate laws to counter bioterrorism
A parliamentary panel has highlighted the need for the government to formulate effective laws to counter bioterrorism, stating that the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have taught a lesson about the importance of controlling biological agents and the need for strategic alliances between different nations.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, in its report “The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and its management”, stressed the need for biosecurity to prevent the world community from carrying out any activity that signals bioterrorism.
The chairman of the standing parliamentary committee, Ram Gopal Yadav, presented the report to Rajya Sabha’s president, M Venkaiah Naidu, on Saturday. The committee’s attention has been drawn to the fact that novel coronaviruses, such as viruses that infect large populations around the world and emerge as pandemics, can be used as biological weapons against enemy nations.
Biosecurity, therefore, is a critical area of concern, according to the report.
The Department of Health and Family has stated that a holistic approach is needed to ensure biosecurity against biological weapons, which, among other things, includes a deterrence, prevention, protection and response approach against biological weapons, engagement with organisms and active participation in ongoing international activities. Treaties and Strengthening of Biosafety and Biosafety Platforms in India.
It has also been proposed to institute robust biodepositories for high-risk emerging / reemerging infectious pathogens, strengthen disease surveillance, including at the animal-human interface, train and develop capacities for the management of public health emergencies derived from the use of biological weapons, and strengthen research and surveillance activities related to the development of vaccines and diagnostic drugs. “The adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have taught the lesson about the importance of controlling biological agents and the need for strategic partnerships between different nations. “The committee, therefore, feels that the current time is the most appropriate for the government to formulate effective laws to counter bioterrorism,” the committee said in its report.
The panel stated that it also believes that with VRDL’s expanding network, ICMR would serve as an important platform for the diagnosis and surveillance of existing and emerging viral infections and thus make the country biosecure against potentially deadly viruses and the threat of bioterrorism. The committee agreed with the Department of Health Research that a holistic approach is needed to ensure biosecurity against biological weapons. The ministry must also engage with agencies and actively participate in ongoing international treaties. The committee strongly recommended that the ministry conduct more research and work on training and capacity building for the management of public health emergencies arising from the use of biological weapons.