Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) chief scientist, said on Saturday there should be more Covid-19 testing because states’ research methods differ.
She said if the rate of positivity (of a disease) was 5 percent or more, it implies you should be tested more, adding that WHO has set a standard for how much diagnosis in testing was adequate.
Swaminathan claimed that not only the Health Department but all the other agencies would play a part in delivering additional food and services when people lose their jobs and families are in distress as a result of the disease outbreak.
Importance Of Testing:
“Testing is really an important issue. In the beginning, WHO found that many countries did not have diagnostics, and those which had it was not enough. In fact, we found out that diagnostics was lower than it should be,” she said. She was addressing a session at ‘Shaastra’ organized by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras.
“There is a lot of heterogeneity in response to testing between state to state and some states have done higher than the others,” she said. “Tamil Nadu has done well in terms of testing and the Health Department had set up fever clinics in Chennai, when the cases were going up. So, the strategy needs to be decentralized,” she said.
“We now understand the disease (Covid-19) better, understand the epidemiology and it is super-spreader. We know that only 15-16 people who are infected are responsible for the remaining 85 people. We need to be able to identify those situations where these kinds of super-spreaders can happen,” she said.
“I think that (testing for Covid-19) will continue through 2021 as well,” she remarked.
“In low-income countries, the whole workforce for contact tracing, visiting houses, engaging community health workers are the ones who actually came to the rescue but whereas in the developed world, where the medical system is well advanced, the public health system was neglected. Over the years that aspect collapsed,” she added.
Swaminathan said some low-income countries fared better than high-income countries as health workers came to rescue in low countries when the outbreak of Covid-19 occurred by visiting homes and testing for new cases.
She said these are the lessons to learn regardless of the fact that the country is prosperous or poor. A nation should learn from what went right and what didn’t go well and make some adjustments for the nation.