​Is India ready to tackle the coronavirus outbreak?

While the Coronavirus pandemic is cause for serious concern, measures taken by the Indian authorities are halting the spread of the disease. Certainly, the outbreak could have been better managed by, for instance, more speedily stopping the movement of people and screening those arriving from countries where infection rates are high. The government has taken significant steps to test people in urban regions of the country. Those who have travelled to high-risk countries are also being carefully screened. Such measures should suffice in containing the spread of the disease.

What role can Indian health-tech startups play in controlling the outbreak?

Indian health-tech is among the most advanced in the world. It is playing a massive role in helping control the spread of the Coronavirus. Because health-tech players are agile, they can be quickly deployed in areas where existing healthcare facilities are inadequate, for instance, in smaller towns and cities. In such regions, the risk from the Coronavirus is acute because expertise in managing the disease is limited.

Health-tech startups have access to the worlds’ best expertise. They can help screen thousands of people living in the interior of the country. In the weeks and months ahead, health-tech startups will play an immeasurably important role in curbing the spread of the outbreak.

What role will India's pharmaceutical companies play?

Pharmaceutical players will play a central role in healing those infected by the Coronavirus. While Indian pharmaceutical players may not be the first to develop a vaccine for the disease, they will undoubtedly play an essential part in manufacturing a vaccine in India. A vaccine for the Coronavirus may be just a few short months away. Once it is created, Indian pharmaceutical players will be able to develop it themselves quickly.

How does the roadmap look like?

Right now the roadmap is uncertain. No government wants to seem to be doing too little, so they are taking every measure possible to contain the spread of the pandemic. Actions by the government in Italy may seem extreme, yet in hindsight, they will look warranted. Without seemingly extreme measures in place, the disease will infect many more people. The world is not overreacting to the Coronavirus, it is reacting appropriately. Without an appropriate reaction, the outcome could be far worse any anyone could have imagined.

What have been the advancements in developing a vaccine for Coronavirus?

There have been some advances in developing a vaccine for the Coronavirus. The Indian Council of Medical Research has managed to isolate the virus and developing a vaccine may take 18 to 24 months. In the US, clinical trials to protect against the Coronavirus have begun. A vaccine that protects against the virus is still 18 to 24 months away. Isolates of the virus have been created, which is a considerable advancement. A vaccine will be available in at the most two years.

How can telemedicine come into play in such a situation?

Telemedicine has a part to play in controlling the spread of the Coronavirus and in helping administer drugs to combat the disease. Telemedicine clinics are creating awareness about Coronavirus. They are helping to combat misinformation about the Coronavirus by educating the public about the real threat posed by the virus.

Telemedicine clinics are staffed with medical staff that can deliver a vaccine when it is ready. Because telemedicine clinics penetrate even the remotest corner of the country, they can be channels that help vaccinate those who cannot be treated by doctors in the most significant urban centres. When over the next few years, a Coronavirus vaccine is introduced, telemedicine clinics will play a vital role in vaccinating people in every nook and corner of the country.