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Fund for COVID-19 related researches instituted

By Mukhtar Alam:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities on Wednesday launched a research initiative aimed at addressing the coronavirus crisis in the country.
Pakistan, which reported its first two corona positive cases – one at Karachi and another in Gilgit-Baltistan — on February 26, has 1,022 corona positive cases, with eight deaths today. All four provinces and two territories in the country have corona positive cases amidst efforts to slow down the spread of the disease.
An official communication said that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan has sought proposals from universities, institutes, and individual researchers on ideas to address the Novel Coronavirus crisis.
“The research initiative launched on Tuesday, with the support of the World Bank, is entitled the Rapid Research and Innovation Fund (RRIF) program. It aims to mobilize the research capacities of universities in support of national efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis.”
It was further said that under the initiative, a rapid assessment and review mechanism has been established to analyze research and innovation proposals urgently.
“Each applicant seeking funding through RRIF can propose an idea based on one of the priority themes. The proposals are due by April 3, and funding decisions will be made within the month of April,” the communication added, saying funding will be provided to selected research-intensive institutions for the analysis of data, testing of specimens, access to facilities or equipment, or development of essential products or services.

Blood from survivors
On the other hand, some of the COVID-19 affected countries are considering infusing patients with the antibody-laden blood of those who have survived the infection.
The New York City researchers hope antibody-rich plasma can keep people out of intensive care. According to news reports, hospitals in the city are gearing up to use the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 as a possible antidote for the disease. Earlier, researchers in China too have attempted the measure with plasma from people who had recovered from COVID-19.
The convalescent-plasma approach has also seen modest success during past severe acute respiratory syndrome and Ebola outbreaks — but US researchers are hoping to increase the value of the treatment by selecting donor blood that is packed with antibodies and giving it to the patients who are most likely to benefit, added the reports.
They see the blood infusion relatively safe, provided that it is screened for viruses and other infectious agents.

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