Nipah Virus Shows Higher Fatality Rate Compared to Covid-19, Affirms ICMR Chief

Rajiv Bahl-ICMR

New Delhi: Rajiv Bahl, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), stated on Friday that the Nipah virus exhibits a significantly higher mortality rate than the Covid-19 pandemic. During a press briefing, Bahl conveyed that while COVID-19 has a mortality rate ranging from two to three percent, Nipah virus infection has a mortality rate of 40 to 70 percent.

Furthermore, Bahl disclosed India’s plan to acquire an additional 20 doses of monoclonal antibody from Australia for treating Nipah virus infections. He stated, “We initially received a limited supply of monoclonal antibody from Australia in 2018, currently enough for just ten patients.” He also mentioned that this particular drug has not yet been administered to any patients in India.

‘Intensive Efforts to Contain Nipah in Kerala’
The ICMR chief underscored, “We are securing an additional 20 doses, but it is crucial that the drug is administered in the early stages of the infection.” He emphasized the extensive measures being taken to curb the spread of the virus within Kerala, noting that all known cases stem from contact with the ‘index patient’ (the first individual to test positive for the infection).

Nipah Cases Typically Surface in the Rainy Season
When asked about the recurring outbreaks in Kerala, Bahl remarked, “We remain uncertain. In 2018, we identified a connection between the outbreak in Kerala and bats. However, we could not definitively establish how the infection jumped from bats to humans. We are endeavoring to investigate this once again. These occurrences tend to coincide with the rainy season.”

‘Monoclonal Antibody Proves Effective in Nipah Cases’
Bahl mentioned that 14 patients infected with the Nipah virus outside India were treated with monoclonal antibodies, and none succumbed to the virus. He clarified that only Phase-1 trials have been conducted to affirm the drug’s safety, with efficacy trials yet to be undertaken.

Rajiv Bahl-ICMR

He clarified that this treatment option is reserved for patients for whom no authorized and satisfactory treatment exists. The decision to employ antibodies rests not only with the Kerala government but also with the attending physicians and the families of the patients.