Nipah Virus Outbreak in 2018: Kerala Opens its 1st Virology Institute

In mid-2018, Kerala was faced with a medical crisis when 16 lives were lost to the deadly Nipah virus (NiV).  It all started when a family of four got infected in Perambra town near Kozhikode. From 4 preliminary infections, soon the Health Department was met with 75 casualties of the virus. The outbreak was intervened by the government, exposing major flaws in the system.

The unfortunate event struck a realisation in the government and the necessity for a virology institute was evident to prevent such crisis in the future. The virology institute will help detect early viral outbreaks. The Kerala Government cleared the project in the same month and the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan laid the foundation stone for the project. The state is set to open its first virology institute in Thonnakkal, Thiruvananthapuram and the first phase of the 28,000 sq. ft. building is expected to be completed by the end of February 2019. The work on the second phase of 80,000 sq. ft. has already started progressing under the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation.
It will be established on 25 acres in the Life Science park in Thonnakkal, TVM.

The Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) in Thonnakkal will be the first institute in India to link up with Global Virus Network (GVN) – a coalition of the world’s leading virologists. The Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) institute will function under the guidance of the State Institute for Science and Technology.

Kerala Chief Minister was honored by Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, US for state's action to prevent the spread of Nipah virus
Kerala Chief Minister was honored by Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, US for state’s action to prevent the spread of Nipah virus

“The institute will lay emphasise on research; not just diagnosing a virus and suggesting treatment, but we should also understand why human beings are so vulnerable to such viruses. We also need to have measures by which we will be able to stop infections from spreading by making the human body much more resistant,” GM Nair, Coordinator of the Institute, said. [Source: TheNewsMinute]

“The institute will focus on early diagnosis of viral diseases, improving our understanding about pathogens and planning preventive measures. It will be an institute of international standards capable of developing measures to tackle outbreaks. The Institute of Advanced Virology will function under the guidance of Kerala State Council for Science, Technology & Environment,” Pinarayi Vijayan wrote on his Facebook page.

The institute is presumed to have about eight departments. A total of 202 crores have been sanctioned by the Kerala Government to set up the institute. However, officials claim they need at least Rs 500 crores in the next 5 years to complete the project.

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