CISMAC India's COVID-19 Response
In India, the first COVID-19 case was reported on January 30, 2020. As of June 21, 2020, ~425 000 COVID-19 cases had been reported with 13 700 deaths across the country.
Six cities, including Delhi account for about half of all reported cases in India. A 21-day, nation-wide, complete lockdown was announced on March 24, 2020. This was extended until April 14, 2020 followed by 2-week extensions from May 3, 2020 and May 17, 2020, with some relaxations for essential services. The Government announced phased easing of the lockdown from June 1, 2020 with strict adherence to the guidelines about the use of masks or face covers, staggered visitors, maintenance of hand hygiene, adequate social distancing, respiratory etiquettes, and thermal screening.
There are five CISMAC projects being conducted in India. Two are led by THSTI (Translational Health Science and Technology Institute) and three by the Society for Applied Studies (SAS, Delhi).
What is happening in the CISMAC studies ...
In the THSTI Zinc Sepsis study, the research team interupted screening and enrolment following a risk assessment. Researchers were able to complete study follow-up of those who had already been enroled, relying primarily on phone calls to the homes of those who had been discharged from hospital. The site staff who were not required to be in the hospital performed assigned activities from home under stringent supervision. Central monitoring of data and query management continued as before. The THSTI and site Ethics committees were notified of the temporary halt in study activities and the risk mitigation plan. Following the easing of the lockdown, the first site to resume study activity was Chacha Nehru Bal Chkitsalaya Hospital on 27th May 2020 followed by Safdarjung Hospital on 5th June 2020. Activities are expected to re-start in the other two study hospitals in the coming weeks.
In the THSTI Zinc Equity study, data collection had not yet started when the lockdown was announced. Plans for implementation are awaiting the moment recruitment becomes possible.
The three CISMAC projects led by SAS (Community-initiated KMC, Biological effects of cKMC and Poverty and Equity cKMC) had already completed data collection when the lockdown measures were issuedStaff that were engaged in activities relating to data analysis and publication of the findings could continue without interruption, adjusting their activities to the demands of social distancing.
Helping out nationally
Both THSTI and SAS have been collaborating with the Indian government in their pandemic response.
THSTI is leading an India Research Consortium to “Understanding human Covid-19 infections” in collaboration with 10 hospitals (public and private). It has developed a national biorepository of samples collected longitudinally from COVID-19 patients. Several technicians from the zinc sepsis study team, a few study nurses and all the senior research officers, research officer and clinical research coordinator volunteered to contribute to this nationally import effort. With the resumption of CISMAC study activities, the zinc sepsis staff is gradually being withdrawn from the COVID 19 cohort study to resume their responsibilities in the zinc sepsis study.
SAS clinical staff have provided voluntary services and engaged as resource persons in the COVID-19 National Task Force. As a part of its social responsibility during the challenging situation, SAS contributed INR 50,000 per month to the PM CARES Fund and donated around 200 pulse oximeters to the state government of Haryana.