Pinarayi Vijayan becomes first Indian CM to be felicited by IHV Baltimore. LDF government to set up dedicated virology institute.

Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Baltimore honoured Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the exemplary work done by the LDF government of Kerala in effectively containing the spread of Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala.

Dr Robert C Gallo, co-founder of the Institute and famous virologist, who co-discovered HIV and developed Elisa test kit, presented a memento to the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at a function held at the IHV campus. Nipah outbreak had killed 17 persons in Kozhikode and Malappuram district in May earlier this year.

Vijayan also acquired first hand knowledge on the functioning of the institute to set up a world class Virology Institute in Kerala. Health Minister KK Shailaja Teacher also accompanied the Chief Minister during his visit to the institute.

Vijayan held discussions with Dr Gallo, senior fellows and scientists of the institute and probed the possibility of collaboration with Kerala government in setting up Virology Institute in Kerala.

Dr Gallo offered all support and technological assistance for this initiative of the LDF government. In the backdrop of the NIPAH outbreak, the LDF government had fast-tracked the establishment of a virology institute to improve preparedness and response to infectious diseases that pose a challenge to public health. The main building of the Institute of Advanced Virology, already under construction at the Life Sciences park, Thonnakkal, is expected to be completed only by the end of next year. The institute will include a 20,000-sq-ft pre-fabricated modular building that will house the virology labs and diagnostic facilities.

The project envisages one Biosafety Level 3 laboratory and eight labs with BSL-2 facilities. Established under the Kerala Biotechnology Commission, the institute will be equipped for high-end research to identify and study viruses and viral infections.

It needs to be noted that Kerala had witnessed several outbreaks of viral infections in recent years including dengue fever, mumps, measles, HFMD (hand-foot-and-mouth disease), KFD (Kyasanur forest disease), chicken pox, and H1N1 infection. The Zika virus and the yellow fever virus are also considered a looming threat to the State.

LDF government has been undertaking efforts to network the institute with the National Institute of Virology, Manipal University, and the high-risk virus labs under the DRDO, Bhopal, and the ICMR, Pune as well as virology institutes in other countries.

The response of the LDF government is in stark contrast to other state governments and central governments which routinely fail in evolving any effective mechanism to deal with outbreak diseases.

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