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Science Monitor: 10 April 2021

Science Monitor: 10 April 2021



To monitor disease trends and to respond quickly to disease outbreaks in the country, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has now launched a digital platform for the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program. In a virtual function organized on the 5th of April, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan launched the Advanced Digital Surveillance System as the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP). A day before this launch, National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 was also approved by the union minister. These steps are expected to bring about a revolutionary change in the field of health data and management of diseases.

Integrated Health Information Platform

About the platform:

  • The platform is a sophisticated next generation digital version of the current integrated disease surveillance program of the Government of India.

  • IHIP will be the world's largest online disease surveillance platform. Through this platform, diseases spreading across every region and community of the country can be monitored in real time and now 33 diseases can be monitored on the platform compared to 18 diseases earlier.

  • Hospitals, health workers and NAMs from all corners of the country have been added to the Integrated Health Information Platform. They are responsible for feeding in the data about diseases and patients to the platform from their locations in real time.

  • This information will then be available to provide quick information about disease trends even at the remote rural level based on this data accurate policies and solutions can be developed by the authorities.

  • Earlier, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also proved the National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021. Under this policy, effective treatment of rare diseases will now be promoted. To provide better and cheaper treatment, the focus will be on clinical research and drug development within the country.

  • While the National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 will help in effective management of rare disorders and ailments, the Integrated Health Information Platform will provide accurate and adequate data on all types of diseases emerging across the country.

  • These steps are expected to bring about many positive changes in the health care services and will definitely play a vital role in building a strong and healthy nation.



Although successful vaccination campaigns are being carried out all across the globe to control covid-19 yet the need to find an appropriate drug for the disease hasn't decreased. Recently, researchers from IISER, Bhopal and the USA-based University of Nebraska Medical Center have identified a well-studied drug called Rapamycin which can be repurposed to treat covid-19 infection.

IISER Bhopal and University of Nebraska Medical Centre Researchers identify  a drug that can be repurposed to treat COVID-19 – India Education| Global  Education |Education News | India Education Diary

About the drug:

  • In a bid to control the pandemic of covid-19, vaccination campaigns are underway in most of the countries. While vaccination is needed to prevent the population from infection, it is not a solution for people who are already suffering from the disease and who may contract it in the future.

  • Therefore, scientists are also working towards repurposing of existing drugs to develop a quick and reliable treatment for the infection.

  • In this series, researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research or IISER, Bhopal and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA have identified a new drug that can be used against covid-19.

  • Researchers studied a drug called Rapamycin which is used in organ transplantation and cancer treatment and found its biochemical working promising enough to treat covid-19 infection.

  • This study has recently been published in the International Elsevier journal Chemical Biological Interactions.

  • In their research, scientists observed that unlike antiviral drugs, Rapamycin acts on the host proteins rather than the virus. Therefore, Rapamycin will not be affected by virus mutations. In addition to this, Rapamycin can control the cytokine storm which leads to severe symptoms in the patients.

  • According to studies, covid-19 has proved to be more life-threatening for older and obese patients as Rapamycin is also effective in delaying these two factors so the drug is the suitable candidate for covid-19 treatment.

  • As Rapamycin has been subjected to regenerative clinical trials for other diseases, so it can be directly tested on covid-19 subjects in phase 2 trials as it takes decades to develop an effective drug. So, repurposing of the existing medicines to treat the covid-19 infection seems to be a quick and promising solution.



In India, there are many national highways and railway tracks that cut through the identified elephant corridors, obviously these areas add to the chances of human wildlife conflict which can further lead to loss of life and property. Now to avert such conflicts, Chandigarh based CSIR-CSIO has developed an intelligent sensor-based system to detect elephant movement in these areas and also to issue alerts to the concerned authorities.

About the system:

  • In India, human elephant conflict is the most common. On railway tracks and highways that run through forest areas collision with elephants is always a potential threat and such accidents prove fatal for wildlife as well as humans and lost to property.

  • To avert such collisions under a project of the Wildlife Institute of India and Worldwide Fund for Nature, the Central Scientific Instruments Organization of CSIR has developed intelligent systems to detect elephant movement and to issue alerts.

  • Earthquake sensing based EleSeisAlert and thermal infrared imaging based EleThermAlert, these two systems can automatically inform the concerned departments when they detect elephant movement in and around railway tracks.

  • EleThermAlert uses thermal infrared imaging sensors which have been installed around railway tracks. These cameras use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify wildlife even in the dark and can issue an alert to the railways and local forest department in real time. This prevents accidents saving precious lives and property.

  • CSIO has used earthquake sensors for the second system to create a network of geophone earthquake sensors that are linked to the main equipment based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

  • Researchers experimentally designed the pattern of tremors arising from the movement of elephants by first moving elephants under real conditions in the wilderness and then feeding that data into the instrument. Now as elephants pass through these sensors, the system creates seismic patterns, identifies them and automatically issues alerts to the central server via sms or Email.

  • The devices used in both these systems are designed to suit the weather and difficult geographical conditions. These systems use very little energy and are battery based. Given the phone or internet connection problems, these systems have been connected to a low range LoRaWan network to communicate.

  • Apart from transportation, these warning systems can also be used to protect crops from animal raids. Currently, these systems have been installed at the Kansarao Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Dehradun. By using such systems throughout the country, damages incurred due to human wildlife conflict can be minimized.


1. Indian Railways completes World's Highest Railway Bridge:

World's highest rail bridge In Jammu completes a construction landmark |  NewsTrack English 1

  • Indian railways has completed the arch closure of the iconic Chenab Bridge, a part of the USBRL project. The bridge will connect the Kashmir valley to the rest of the country. Being 359 metres above the riverbed level, the bridge is the highest railway bridge in the world.

  • The 1315 meter long bridge is said to be 35 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower. Along with being earthquake resistant, the bridge can also withstand wind speed up to 266 kilometer per hour.

  • Under the northern railway, this bridge is being constructed by the Konkan Railway, DRDO, Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru, IIT Delhi, IIT Roorki and many foreign expert companies are assisting in its design and testing, many cutting-edge technologies are being used for the first time in this construction.

2. Zydus Cadila seeks DCGI nod for hepatitis drug use in hospitalised covid patient:

Zydus Cadila seeks approval to use hepatitis drug for Covid-19 clinical  trials | Hindustan Times

  • Under drug repurposing research Zydus-Cadila has now sought permission to use its hepatitis drug for the treatment of covid 19.

  • In the application sent to Central Drug Standard Control Organization, it was stated that the phase 3 clinical trials of the pegulated interferon alpha 2b were conducted successfully and the trials have yielded positive results.

  • This drug of Zydus-Cadila is available in the market under the brand name PegiHep. The drug helped the covid patients to recover faster and no adverse side effects were seen during the trials.

  • Last year, the drug was also used on covid-19 patients in Wuhan by a team of International researchers to analyze its effectiveness in covid-19 management.

  • According to the company PegiHep presents an effective and viable solution for the management of the infection.

3. First X-rays from Uranus Discovered:

Detection of X-Ray Radiation From the planet Uranus (E) - YouTube

  • Scientists have reported for the first time the detection of x-ray radiation from the planet Uranus. Experts believe that understanding the x-ray emission can provide important information about the planet's characteristics and structure.

  • However, the source of this radiation has not been accurately ascertained, yet Uranus is the seventh planet of the solar system and has four times the diameter of the earth and is also the fourth largest by mars.

  • The studies based on observations made in 2002 and 2017 from NASA's Chandra x-ray observatory. According to the astronomers, one of the reasons behind this emission could be collision of Uranus rings with the charged particles or it could be due to sun. It is possible that like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus is also reflecting back the x-rays emitted by the sun.

4. Kota Farmer Develops New Round-The-Year Dwarf Mango: