The Australian government has invested 4 million Australian dollars for a joint study, along with Indian researchers, into the long-term health effects of COVID-19 and its early detection, the Australian Industry, Science and Technology minister announced on Thursday. The Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) is financing six new projects, ranging from farming technology to coronavirus detection.
The agriculture projects focus on developing risk management systems to protect farmers from disasters associated with climate change and demonstrate how food-drying technology using renewable energy can reduce pollution in the food-processing sector. Apart from new technologies for early detection of COVID-19, the researchers are focusing on the longer-term effects of the virus on the heart and lungs of patients who have recovered.
Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said she was pleased that work in these important areas would be able to continue after the COVID-19 pandemic had caused significant delays this year. "This latest funding will enable Australian and Indian researchers to contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in crucial screening and diagnostic testing, Andrews said.
As a result of our shared commitment to finding answers through science and technology, India and Australia have tackled a number of shared challenges since the AISRF was established in 2006, with important progress made in areas including agriculture, energy and health. The Australian government remains committed to our strong, strategic relationship with India, which provides numerous economic benefits for both countries, the minister was quoted as saying by an official press statement.
The Australian recipients of the grants are the University of South Australia, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Technology Sydney, the Metro North Hospital and Health Service in Brisbane, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Western Australia. In June 2020, the Australian government had announced that it would commit a further USD 15 million to extend the AISRF for another four years to 2024, bringing Australia's total contribution to the AISRF fund to nearly AUSD 100 million over 18 years.
The AISRF is Australia's largest fund dedicated to bilateral science collaboration. Till date, the coronavirus has killed 1,41,772 people with 97,67,371 confirmed cases in India, according to the Ministry of Health. In Australia, COVID-19 has claimed 908 lives along with 28,000 confirmed infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University.