A revised list drawn up by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has included police personnel at checkpoints, vegetable vendors, pharmacists, bus drivers, building security guards and airport staff as "frontline workers" who need to be tested if they show flu-like symptoms.
According to a report by The Indian Express, this ICMR document shows the extent to which the testing strategy in India will change, and the expansion of the definition of a "frontline worker".
The report states that this is including the paramedics and the healthcare workers, who were eligible to get tested right from the start of the outbreak in India.
"Security staff at buildings both private and Govt, Police personnel manning checkpoints/ roads (In certain industrial areas/ business establishments), airport staff, Air India team involved in the evacuation, migrant labourers returning to States, bus driver and associated staff, Certain category of shops like – pharmacist, vegetable vendors, banks, etc" are now classified as "frontline workers" who need to get tested if they have symptoms.
This list, sources told the newspaper, has also been drawn up keeping in mind the emerging hotspots.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"We have to gradually move to testing ‘frontline’ workers as per the expanded definition. This is the way forward. This document has been drawn up also with special focus on the eastern region where testing facilities are limited and authorities are still getting used to the containment and contact tracing drill," a source said.
According to the newspaper, the ICMR is also partly looking at expansion of the testing capacity to 2 lakh a day with this expansion in definition.The ICMR had on May 18 updated the guidelines for testing of COVID-19, said all symptomatic influenza-like illnesses among returnees and migrants within seven days should be tested for the virus.