The Compound Eye – The Epidemics Act 1987, Patanjali and STI policy 2020

Laws that Govern our Public Health Response to COVID-19 

The on-going response to the COVID-19 outbreak in India has used lockdowns, quarantine measures and utilisation of apps for contact tracing. These policies have raised questions related to trade-offs between individual liberty and public health. Two laws which have been cited as providing legitimacy for the government’s actions are the Epidemics Act, 1897 and the National Disaster Management Act, 2005. Let us take a brief look at these two laws:

The Epidemics Act, 1897:

A 3 page short document enacted by the Imperial Legislative Council to tackle a bubonic plague outbreak. that grants state and central government powers to quarantine and segregate people and inspects vessels leaving or entering India.

The Public Health Bill 2017 (discussed in the last edition was meant to repeal and replace this Act).

Coronil Story So Far: 

In a short span, the Coronil story has unfolded dramatically. Here is the snapshot of what has happened so far:

On June 23,  Patanjali announces launch of “Coronil” an Ayurvedic cure for treating COVID-19, which they said has been shown 100 per cent favourable results during clinical trials on affected patients, at Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar. According to Patanjali sources, the clinically controlled trials showed 100% improvement in the 280 patients of coronavirus.

Subsequent to this stunning claim, AYUSH ministry released a statement: “Patanjali Ayurved Ltd has been asked to provide at the earliest details of the name and composition of the medicines being claimed for COVID treatment; site(s)/hospital(s), where the research study was conducted for COVID-19; protocol, sample size, Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, CTRI registration and results data of the study (ies) and stop advertising/publicizing such claims till the issue is duly examined.”

Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020

The Union government is in the process of formulating a Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020. The last policy was formed in 2013.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has set up a secretariat for the purpose with in-house experts on policy knowledge and data support.

The new policy, with its decentralised manner of formation, will reorient STIP in terms of priorities, sectoral focus, the way research is done and technologies are developed and deployed for a larger socio-economic welfare, says a statement issued by the government. The office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the government of India and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) are leading this initiative. The two offices have started a consultative process for the new STIP by reaching out to a wide range of stakeholders.

Meanwhile, Things Just Got Weird:

Newton had devised a treatment for plague. Yes he did. And the recipe is up for auction if you are interested in trying it. Oh just before your place your bets, it involves toad vomit lozenges.

Pig poops out a pedometer, starts a fire: I am just going to leave this here, no comments attached. No animals were actually harmed.

Baldness may be a risk factor for COVID-19: Still a theory – but better stay safe than be sorry. Stay indoors, wash your hands and stay safe folks!