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Develop test kits, identify drugs: Science ministry calls for rapid projects against Covid-19

The Department of Science and Technology wants researchers to develop affordable rapid diagnostic kits, research existing drugs and test supplements that increase immunity.

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New Delhi: The Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has issued a fresh call for research proposals for projects that can help fight the novel coronavirus pandemic.

DST’s Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) is looking for projects that can provide rapid solutions to emerging health care requirements to combat Covid-19.

Several such proposal calls have been issued earlier, but this time DST is focusing on short-term projects, which can provide immediate solutions to the pandemic. The duration of these projects will be one year, unlike earlier projects that were upto three years long.

The board wants researchers to propose ideas for affordable, portable rapid diagnostic kits, use computational methods to identify molecular targets in the SARS-CoV-2 and identify existing drugs that may work against the virus.

The board also wants researchers to conduct clinical dose testing of nutritional supplements that can help increase immunity against the virus.

Approved projects will be given a maximum fund of Rs 25 lakhs and the last date of submission is 30 April.

Due to the urgency of the situation, the projects will be evaluated and approved for funding on a first-come first-serve basis, Sandeep Verma, Secretary of SERB, told ThePrint.

Also read: Most vaccines go through years of tests, 12-18 months would be extraordinarily fast: Experts

Ministry has issued several other proposal calls

The Ministry of Science and Technology has already issued several calls for proposals through different departments.

SERB had earlier invited proposals as part of a special call under the Intensification of Research in High Priority Area (IRHPA) scheme specifically designed for Covid-19 and related respiratory viral infections to ramp up national research and development efforts against the virus.

The Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body under the Department of Science & Technology, also invited Indian companies and enterprises to send proposals addressing protection and home-based respiratory intervention for Covid-19 patients.

“The proposal may include technologically innovative solutions like low-cost masks, cost-effective scanning devices, technologies for sanitisation of large areas as well as for contactless entry, rapid diagnostic kits and oxygenators, and ventilators”, the announcement read.

Similarly, the Department of Biotechnology also invited project proposals for developing diagnostics, vaccines, novel therapeutics, repurposing of drugs or any other intervention to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Also read: How the novel coronavirus is mutating, and if you should be concerned


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