(Eds: Adds details) New Delhi, Jul 27 A high-level team of researchers from Israel, working with Indian experts to develop rapid testing kits for COVID-19 which can give the result within seconds, arrived here on Monday and is set to jointly carry out final stages of research to determine the effectiveness of advanced technologies developed for the rapid diagnosis of coronavirus infection.
The unique cooperation between Israel and India will enable the Israeli delegation to collect tens of thousands of samples in only 10 days, and to analyse them using computer systems based on artificial intelligence, a statement issued by Israel's defence and foreign affairs ministries said. This massive sampling will shorten processes and advance the approval of effective technology, it said.
The delegation will carry out the final stages of research in India to determine the effectiveness of advanced Israeli technologies developed for the rapid diagnosis of COVID-19, it said. The statement underlined that all the necessary Israeli and Indian approvals were acquired in preparation for this joint activity.
Dozens of sophisticated ventilators also arrived on board the special flight which arrived in Delhi Monday morning with a mission, code-named Operation Breathing Space, to work with Indian authorities in the fight against the pandemic. "Israel went out of its way to approve the export and transfer of these ventilators to India, while both countries continue to fight against the spread of the virus," Gilad Cohen, Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an article for 'The Times' of Israel.
"Israel's exceptional gesture today was a welcome 'thank you' to India, which, just a few months ago, sent medicine and other essential diagnostic equipment in severe global shortage at the time to Israel," he said. Israel's Ambassador to India Ron Malka, who led the delegation, said if a testing kit is developed that can give a result within seconds, it could be a "game changer" in the battle against COVID-19.
The Israeli defence ministry research and development team has been working with Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India K Vijay Raghavan and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop rapid testing for COVID-19 in less than 30 seconds, the Israeli Embassy had said last week. The special flight also brought with it breakthrough emerging Israeli technologies for combating COVID-19, Malka said.
Latest medical equipment developed in Israel to fight COVID-19 has been brought on the special flight, he said. "We also brought on this flight advanced respirators that are banned for export in Israel but a waiver was given to bring them to India," he added.
The joint statement issued by Israel's defence and foreign affairs ministries said that Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on Sunday and updated him on the aircraft's status and equipment on board. The two ministers also discussed the importance of cooperation between the countries in the fight against coronavirus, it said.
The delegation comprises about 20 experts in various fields from Israel's Ministry of Defense, the Israel Defense Forces, the Isareli Ministry of Health and the industries who partnered in the development of the diagnostic solutions. Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have held three telephonic conversations in which they promised mutual assistance in dealing with the virus and committed to joint technological and scientific research between the two countries.