Israel, India Complete Rapid Coronavirus Testing Technologies Evaluation

The joint Israeli-Indian testing for coronavirus in India. (Defense Ministry)

An Israeli delegation of researchers that arrived in India last week to determine the effectiveness of four cutting-edge testing technologies for coronavirus has completed its mission and will return to Israel in the coming days with more than 20,000 samples collected from coronavirus patients.

If proven effective, the rapid-testing kits, based on Israeli technology and Israeli-Indian scientific research, will help people find out if they are COVID-19 positive just by spitting onto a specific surface, breathing into a device, or speaking into a mobile phone.

Quick real-time testing could also help get the economy back on its feet. “The goal is to bring the technological capability to perform rapid corona tests within tens of seconds,” said Col. Asaf Meller, Israel’s Defense Attache to India.

The Israeli delegation was led by the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), in the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The representatives set up six drive-in sites in the city of Delhi for sampling purposes, and two labs for data processing using technology brought from Israel, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The Indian government assigned hundreds of local professionals to collect the samples (50-100 per site), from thousands of volunteers via non-invasive means. Four types of samples were collected from each patient: sound, saliva, breath and a swab test.

The samples were inserted in systems based on artificial intelligence, enabling the DDR&D personnel and representatives of Israeli industries to begin processing and analyzing the data. This procedure will continue upon the return of the delegation to Israel.

The first stages of testing the four technologies were done in Israel, NoCamels reported last week. This included a voice-based test that identifies changes in the respiratory system; a breathalyzer test that uses terahertz waves to detect the virus; a polyamino acids test that helps detect virus proteins in a saliva sample; and an isothermal test to detect the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen that causes coronavirus in a heated-up saliva sample.

On the medical side, the delegation was led by Prof. Nati Keller, an infectious diseases specialist from the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital, and Itai Gordon, Head of the Innovation Department at Health Ministry.

India’s chief scientist, K. Vijay Raghavan, headed the Indian side of the project.

India is a partner to Israel in scientific research and home to over 1.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. The researchers hoped to carry out tens of thousands of tests of each of the four advanced technologies to determine their efficacy in real-time.

The activity was supervised by joint Israeli-Indian teams at all sites, ensuring that everyone complies with predetermined guidelines and regulation.

“We are in the midst of processing and analyzing the data that we have collected, and will continue this process upon our arrival to Israel. We are optimistic and hopeful that in the near future we will put in place a system for the rapid diagnosis of the coronavirus, which will make it possible to further open the Israeli economy, open the skies and reduce the damage caused by the pandemic,” said Lt. Col. Yaniv Meirman. “We came to India to enrich Israeli diagnostic technologies and while there, we found real partners – partners who were fully committed to the success of the mission.”