India and the UK have signed new partnerships to boost bilateral cooperation on combating the coronavirus pandemic as part of the 10th UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), held virtually following the COVID-19 lockdown and travel constraints.
A GBP 8-million joint funding initiative was announced to support collaborative research focused on understanding the severity of COVID-19 in South Asian populations in India.
The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in Indian Ministry of Science and Technology said their collaborative research will support research projects that are trying to understand the pandemic through the study of related ethnic groups in different environments in both countries.
“This joint programme builds on the strong foundation of India-UK research collaboration and is an opportunity to bring together our collective expertise to understand the severity of COVID-19 infection in South Asian populations of both India and the UK,” said Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology.
Successful projects will focus on mechanistic studies of the disease and its sequela; virology, immunity and pathophysiology; and epidemiology and behavioural science.
Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said, “Through the UKRI-DBT COVID-19 Partnership Initiative we hope to support collaborative UK-India research teams to investigate exactly that. We hope the findings from this new programme will help to mitigate the severity of COVID-19 in the UK and India.”
A second COVID-19 related project, detailed in the joint statement issued by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the end of their dialogue, involves the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) contributing to India’s Coronavirus Joint Response Plan (JRP) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) via the World Health Organisation (WHO), with an initial amount of GBP 600,000.
This will provide a platform for further bilateral cooperation on AMR through a Fleming Fund partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the future.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)