THE UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and India’s department of biotechnology(DBT), under the federal ministry of science and technology, has launched joint fund of £8 million to understand the severity of Covid-19 in South Asians in both the countries.
Through the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UKRI is investing £4m, with matched equivalent resource provided by India.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, DBT and UKRI have made significant rapid investment in research.
The new initiative will support new research projects which try to understand, the pandemic through the study of related ethnic groups in different environments in both countries.
Successful projects will focus on mechanistic studies of the disease and its sequelae, virology, immunity and pathophysiology, pidemiology and behavioural science.
“In the UK, emerging evidence shows that, after taking account of age and other socio-demographic factors, people from BAME backgrounds are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 as white people. There is an urgent need for more data on why Covid-19 disproportionately impacts people from minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK and around the world,” said Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive of UKRI.
“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.”
Dr Renu Swarup, secretary of DBT, said: “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.
“Research from this DBT-UKRI collaboration will be important in understanding the differential response among these two populations. Improved understanding in this regard will empower us in planning more effective interventions to fight Covid-19 pandemic and any such events in future.”