There has been a significant rise in communicable diseases, including zoonotic diseases, due to rapid urbanisation and increased global travel. Vaccine research and product development are highly dependent on information about the disease and its spread.
The Coronavirus pandemic accentuated the need for evidence-based strategy and preparedness for formulating public health policies to minimise the spread and consequent damage due to infectious diseases. It made it evident that collaborative efforts with institutions and public health foundations across India and other countries are the way forward in predicting, monitoring, and managing infectious diseases.
It has been found that countries across the globe with robust risk surveillance fared better in dealing with the spread of the Coronavirus, establishing, without doubt, the efficacy of risk surveillance.
Several governments and organisations began thinking and working in this direction. A few mathematical based models emerged, such as the SUTRA model, developed by IIT Kanpur and the SUTRA consortium. This model was applied in many districts across India during the initial waves of the pandemic to analyse the trajectory of Covid-19.
The SUTRA model proved to be very reliable, especially with respect to the arrival of new mutants. This established that mathematical forecast models are reliable for planning future action.
CII partnered with IIT Kanpur to launch the IIT Kanpur – CII Risk Surveillance Centre. Set up as a CSR collaborative by CII Foundation, the Centre is supported by multi-industry partners and other key stakeholders such as the Government, academic and research bodies, industries and civil society. Industry support includes Jubilant FoodWorks, Jubilant Foundation, DCM Shriram Foundation, National Engineering Industries Ltd and CESC Limited.
This robust Risk Surveillance Centre will come out with an evidence-based data-driven risk surveillance model or tool to help understand the co-circulation of the COVID-19 infection or other infections based on the studies undertaken. This will help understand the transmission of infections and identify risk factors for infectious diseases to strengthen interventions by the concerned Government departments and agencies.
The centre, which has been partially operational since the second wave hit the country, has undertaken some studies. Based on its findings, two reports were developed. The first report, Spread of Delta Wave in India, identifies key factors that impacted the spread of the second wave in India. The second report, Spread of Omicron Wave in the World, presents immunity bypass properties of Omicron and its impact in different countries.
The centre’s launch is a step ahead in CII’s multi-pronged COVID-19 related interventions for which it has been working closely with the Government and other stakeholders. It represents the convergence of efforts in dealing with pandemics and other infectious diseases in the future. The centre will also contribute to the strengthening of public health systems in other developing countries in the future.