Coronavirus in Mumbai, India
Coronavirus in Mumbai, India Reuters

In the coming weeks, the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Health will lead an unprecedented operation in the fight against the coronavirus, in cooperation with the Indian Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser. A senior DDR&D delegation will travel to India to conduct the final stages of testing of advanced technologies for the rapid diagnosis of the coronavirus.

Israel's Ambassador to India Dr. Ron Malka will board the flight, which will carry cutting-edge equipment donated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of the private sector. This delivery aims to assist India in dealing with the Corona crisis, and includes ventilators – exported to India following an exceptional approval.

Since the start of the pandemic, the DDR&D has tested dozens of diagnostic technologies. Some of them have matured and passed initial trials in Israel, however in order to complete testing and prove their effectiveness, these must be tested on a wide range of patients.

The cooperation between Israel and India will enable the delegation and its Indian counterparts, to collect tens of thousands of samples in just ten days, and analyze them using computer systems based on artificial intelligence. This massive sampling will shorten processes and advance the approval of effective technology. All tests will be validated using PCR tests.

In recent years, Israel-India relations have developed into a strategic partnership, and since the beginning of the Corona crisis, the two countries have agreed to provide mutual assistance and to cooperate in areas of research. For the purpose of this specific activity, the Government of India has designated a local team of around 100 professionals, as well as a team dedicated to the construction of testing sites that will be operated jointly by the Israeli and Indian delegations.

The four tech systems that will be tested are: voice test, breathalyzer test based on terra-hertz waves, isothermal test, and polyamino acids test. What they all have in common is the ability to detect the presence of the virus in the body quickly- usually within minutes. Developing diagnostic capabilities is a goal for the State of Israel and of many additional countries around the world. It is the most effective way to cut off 'chains of infection', prevent prolonged quarantine and enable the reopening of the global economy.

The four technologies to be tested in India are:

  • Voice Test: This online voice test is based on artificial intelligence. The test analyzes the recording of a human voice and aims to identify changes in the patient's voice and/or deterioration in the condition of his/her respiratory system.
  • Breathalyzer test: Detection based on terra-hertz waves: As part of an R&D program, officials developed a system of detecting the virus using THZ waves. The patient must breathe into a sterile sampling kit, after which his/her sample is analyzed using artificial intelligence.
  • Isothermal testing: This is a biochemical testing method that enables the detection of the virus in a saliva sample. An inexpensive sample kit has been developed, which detects the presence of the virus with the help of a chemical reaction that takes place once the content is heated at about 60 degrees Celsius. The kit is suitable for at-home use and produces a result within 30 minutes.
  • Testing using Polyamino acids: This is a biochemical method that enables the detection of Corona virus proteins collected in a saliva sample. Using the appropriate instrumentation, a sample may be analyzed in several minutes.

The Israeli delegation consists of 20 individuals (IMoD, IDF, Ministry of Health and representatives of relevant industries), and is led by Ambassador Ron Malka, and the Defense Attaché in India, Col. Assaf Meller. On the medical side, the delegation is led by Prof. Nati Keller, an infectious diseases specialist from Sheba Medical Center, and Itai Gordon, Head of the Innovation Department at the Ministry of Health. In addition to the DDR&D team, the delegation also includes engineers and other professionals from the companies involved in the development of the various diagnostic technologies.

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: "The entire Ministry of Defense has been mobilized to address the Corona crisis. We hope that the research and development led by the DDR&D together with our excellent industries and academic institutions, will lead to a breakthrough that will change the way we diagnose and fight the virus, while giving the boost necessary to 'restart' our economy."

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi expanded: "Since the start of the global pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to advance international cooperation and mutual assistance. I see great importance in the cooperation with India in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This operation conveys a message of friendship and solidarity with India. It also provides a unique opportunity for scientific and technological cooperation that can assist Israel, India and the world in coping both with the pandemic and with the economic crisis that came with it."

Coronavirus in Mumbai, India
Coronavirus in Mumbai, India Reuters
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