Israeli team in India for research on rapid tests for Covid-19 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Israeli team in India for research on rapid tests for Covid-19

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jul 27, 2020 10:58 PM IST

The team, led by Israeli ambassador Ron Malka, reached the national capital in a special flight from Tel Aviv that also carried cutting-edge equipment contributed by Israel’s foreign ministry and private companies.

A team of top Israeli defence scientists and health experts that has been working with Indian counterparts to develop rapid tests for Covid-19 capable of providing results in under a minute arrived in New Delhi on Monday for conducting tests that could lead to the approval of the technology.

A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes swab from a teacher of a municipal school for a rapid antigen test at a community center.(REUTERS)
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes swab from a teacher of a municipal school for a rapid antigen test at a community center.(REUTERS)

The team, led by Israeli ambassador Ron Malka, reached the national capital in a special flight from Tel Aviv that also carried cutting-edge equipment contributed by Israel’s foreign ministry and private companies. The cargo included dozens of ventilators whose export is barred by Israel, and are being provided to India through “an exceptional approval”, Israeli officials said.

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The Israeli team has been working with Indian scientists led by K Vijayraghavan, principal scientific advisor to the prime minister, and experts from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop the rapid tests, which Israeli officials have said are expected to provide results in 30 seconds.

Also read: India, Israel to deepen military cooperation amid border row

The delegation will complete a series of tests and carry out the final stages of research in India to determine the effectiveness of advanced technologies for the rapid diagnosis of Covid-19, a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry said.

“The unique cooperation between Israel and India will enable the delegation to collect tens of thousands of samples in only ten days, and to analyse them using computer systems based on artificial intelligence,” the statement said.

“This massive sampling will shorten processes and advance the approval of effective technology. It should be noted that all the necessary Israeli and Indian approvals were acquired in preparation for this joint activity,” it added.

The team includes 20 experts in different fields from the Directorate of Defense Research and Development, Israel Defense Forces, the health ministry and industries which partnered in the development of diagnostic solutions.

Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on Sunday and updated him on the flight and equipment on board. The two ministers discussed further cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus.

Also read | ‘Indian govt helped a lot’: Israel praises India for evacuations

Israeli officials earlier described the cooperation with India on diagnostic solutions as “unprecedented”. The merger of Israeli technology with Indian production capabilities will allow the swift resumption of normal life alongside the coronavirus, they said. The Israeli technologies can also be mass produced at a lower cost in India and be jointly exported to third countries, they added.

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu have spoken on phone three times and discussed cooperation in combating the Coronavirus through scientific collaboration between the two sides.

Gilad Cohen, deputy director general for Asia in the Israeli foreign ministry, said the two countries had “successfully transformed this unprecedented global pandemic into an opportunity to assist one another and further enhance their relations”.

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