The Union health ministry on Monday launched a web portal that will provide all important information on COVID-19, vaccine development, ongoing clinical trials and progress made in this area locally and globally.
The ''vaccine web portal'' and the ''National Clinical Registry for COVID-19'' have been developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research and was launched by Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, according to a health ministry statement.
Vardhan earlier had said that a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available by the first quarter of 2021.
The National Clinical Registry for COVID-19 will collect systematic data on clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory investigations, management protocols, the clinical course of COVID-19, disease spectrum and outcomes of patients.
"The data will serve as an invaluable tool for formulating appropriate patient management strategies, predicting disease severity, patient outcomes etc," the ICMR said in a statement.
The vaccine portal contains all information regarding Indian efforts towards the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.
"Interested people can visit the website on vaccine.icmr.org.in\nvaccine.icmr.org.in to get the latest information on vaccine development," it said.
Vardhan said, "The portal provides useful and important information related to vaccine development, ongoing clinical trials and progress made in this area locally and globally at regular intervals."
"Today, in the times of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccine development is watched very closely. Thus, it becomes important to showcase the status of vaccine development in the country," he said.
On India's fight against COVID-19, the health minister said the continuously rising recovery rate and progressively falling case fatality rate in the country have proven the success of the COVID-19 containment strategy followed by all states and Union Territories.
"From having one laboratory (for COVID-19 testing) to over 1,800 today, we have come a long way in strengthening our capabilities. We have successfully ramped up our testing capacity which has touched 15 lakh daily tests," he said.
Vardhan also lauded the healthcare personnel working selflessly to serve the people "even at a time when resources are limited" due to COVID-19.
Apart from the ''vaccine web portal'' and the ''National Clinical Registry for COVID-19'', Vardhan also unveiled a time-line depicting the ICMR's historical achievements and inaugurated the apex health research body's mobile stroke unit, the statement said.
The timeline of the ICMR depicts its 108-year journey since its inception in 1911 when it was known as Indian Research Fund Association, it said.
According to the statement, the time-line captures the policy and programme interventions by the ICMR and its institutes to control diseases, and its pioneering work in the fields of maternal and child health, HIV, cancer and nutrition, among others.
Vardhan said, "The ICMR has always been in the forefront of health research in India and is now leading the country in tackling the unprecedented pandemic through scientific rigour and innovation."
"It has contributed immensely towards the nation's welfare. Through these exhibits, people will take pride in knowing the contributions of the ICMR and the country in the area of medical science," he said.
Launching the mobile stroke unit, Vardhan said it is disheartening to see the susceptibility of people to heart diseases and hypertension, and added that timely treatment can reduce fatality and prevent people from disability.
"Given the large burden of stroke and absence of stroke care facilities in Assam, this initiative will go a long way in addressing the needs of the people in this area. The mobile unit, through tele-consultation, ensures timely and appropriate treatment to the people," he said.
Vardhan, also released the 'Nutrient Requirements for Indians' and 'What India Eats' report apart from launching a new participatory research initiative to map the nutrition and health status dietary habits of people across the nation.
The Nutrient Requirements for Indians, for the first time includes the Estimated Average Requirements and also the Tolerable Upper Limits of nutrients alongside RDAs.
While RDAs are daily dietary nutrient intake levels which would be sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy individuals, EARs are the average daily nutrient intake levels of population.
These recommendations are the basis for defining the nutrient levels in policies and programmes.
“What India Eats” reports the dietary patterns across the country for the first time, the data has been analysed and projected based on food groups. This report gives details of 'Regional Dietary Pattern of Indian Population' and energy and protein sources from different food groups in graphical form," the statement said.
Another key initiative being spearheaded by ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition that was launched by Vardhan was the proposal on 'Mapping of nutrition and health status', which is a national level participatory real-time data generation programme.
This programme aims to develop a mobile based device used by nutrition researchers at district level nationwide in the present pandemic situation.