Indian, US scientists to partner in COVID-19 research

The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) has handpicked eight teams of binational scientists to research COVID-19 treatment and management

August 18, 2020

The detection of the virus in wastewater, management and mitigation procedures, drug repurposing, and genetics strategies are to be studied.

International collaboration on COVID-19 has previously been explored between DRDO and Israel’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development.

Three research collaborations between Indian and the American entities are underway focusing on vaccine development.

Bilateral research teams are also exploring the efficacy of Indian traditional medicine and healthcare in combating outbreaks like COVID-19.

The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) on Tuesday identified eight teams to lead further research on COVID-19 across surfaces including wastewater, management and mitigation procedures as well as technologies like drug repurposing among others. The binational teams will also study reverse genetics strategies under the joint leadership of the Department of Science and Technology and the US Department of State. 

Ashutosh Sharma, DST Secretary and the India Co-Chair of IUSSTF remarked on the collaborative endeavor, “Our existing strong cooperation in S&T on health, energy, artificial intelligence and so on also continues to bring value and attests to the importance of Indo-US collaborations in providing compelling solutions.” The initiative is one of the many bilateral collaborations aimed at gathering insight and concretizing strategies to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Other noteworthy collaborations include a recent bilateral research endeavor with the Ministry of Health, Israel to ascertain methodologies for rapid testing. India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) led the joint initiative with the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DRDD) of Israel to analyse proteins in COVID-19 through the collection of saliva samples. The project subjected participants to extensive testing methods ranging from polyamide tests to audio tests as approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 

The Indian Ambassador to the United States of America, Taranjit Singh Sandhu confirmed that three research collaborations were already underway between Indian and American vaccine entities. Bilateral research teams are also exploring the efficacy of Ayurvedic medicine in combating COVID-19. 

India has also collaborated with the UK and Australia through the UK Research and Innovation Fund for International Collaboration with India and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources (DISER), Australia respectively. The former will facilitate research into antimicrobial resistance and the latter will see state-of-the-art bilateral research on the mitigation of COVID-19. The Government of India has contributed to the growth of scientific Research & Development across the nation. 

The establishment of the Technical Research Centres Programme in the mid-2010s lent a hand to robust research in biotechnology, environmental sciences, and energy. The more recent instituting of Sophisticated Analytical &Technical Help Institute (SATHI) ensures the bridging of the gap between academia and the demands of industries. Research & Development in India can look to experience significant growth through quality bilateral collaborations and efficient governmental policies.