In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic the Centre has decided to call for research proposals on a through a special research scheme, hoping it that would expedite national research efforts on new antivirals, vaccines and affordable diagnostics. The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), the premier body for funding R&D in the country, has given a special call under the Intensification of Research in High Priority Areas (IRHPA) scheme.
What is SERB? Science and Engineering Research Board is a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, established by an Act of the Parliament of India in 2009.
The scheme announced:
·Covid-19 virus has spread rapidly throughout the world and the lack of an efficacious vaccine and lack of availability of suitable chemotherapeutic interventions, the global population has been hit hard
·Academic and research institutions have been encouraged to submit competitive proposals having a strong interdisciplinary component between chemists, biologists, virologists, immunologists, and clinicians, in the related areas and to focus on the development of affordable diagnostics, vaccines, antivirals, disease models and other R&D to study these infections
·Institutions should have access to BSL-3 (Bio-safety level 3) facilities, along with the expertise of handling respiratory viruses as per WHO/Government of India protocols
·DST-SERB encourages technical partnerships and collaborative know-how from biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
·The proposals were to be submitted by the 30 March 2020, through the SERB online portal
The focus areas include:
·new or re-purposed antivirals against valid viral targets and viricidal coatings
·affordable diagnostics for symptomatic and asymptomatic respiratory viral infections
·new vaccines against respiratory viruses
·development of disease models for respiratory viral infections
·studies on immune response and immunity during respiratory viral infections
·epidemiology of Covid-19 and other respiratory viral infections