NEW DELHI: The ICMR has invited independent researchers from across India to contribute to the scientific knowledge related to COVID-19 by submitting their innovative research ideas in identified priority areas, stating that there is scanty knowledge available related to the functional aspects of the virus, its transmission dynamics, immunological response to natural infection and vaccines.
In its call for invites, the apex research body said the coronavirus pandemic has led to major loss of lives and livelihood.
Despite intense efforts of the global scientific community, there is scanty knowledge related to the functional aspects of the virus, its transmission dynamics, immunological response to natural infection and vaccines, it said.
” In addition, it is important to understand the drivers of vaccine hesitancy and reduced uptake, clinical spectrum of the disease and its progression.
Also there is a need to formulate the clinical management protocols in line with the emerging global evidence,” the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.
It had it has initiated research on COVID-19 in ‘task force and intramural mode’.
These projects were formulated to address the most pressing research questions in the following domains — clinical research, diagnostics and biomarkers, epidemiology and surveillance and operations research, it added.
“ICMR now invites independent researchers all across the country to contribute to the scientific knowledge related to COVID-19 by submitting their innovative research ideas as brief concept proposals in the following identified priority areas,” the apex research body said.
All concept proposals have to be submitted online at https://epms.icmr.org.in as a brief 3-4 page concept note on/before June 30, the ICMR said.
All concept proposals will be screened at ICMR.
If approved by the screening committee, selected investigators will be requested to submit full proposals.
The full proposals will be thoroughly reviewed by Project Review Committees and decision will be made accordingly, the apex research body said.
The priority areas include epidemiological and surveillance studies to assess the impact on development of variants between those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in a limited geographic area, seroprevalence studies to determine susceptibility of individuals to SARS-CoV-2, as well as follow up seroprevalence studies at sites covered earlier to measure the impact of vaccination/herd immunity level, the IMCR said.
It also includes surveillance of COVID-19 reinfections in previously infected individuals with same/different SARSCoV-2 strains, effectiveness of vaccines in reducing transmission, developing an appropriate model for surveillance of COVID-19 in schools and colleges.
The priority areas also includes studying immune escape of variant SARS-CoV-2 strains in vaccinated individuals, immunological aspect and vaccine efficacy research to study immunological response to the COVID-19 vaccines in different populations/population sub-groups in the country , duration of protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines, and factors affecting it (age, sex, comorbid status, ethnicity, the ICMR said.
It also includes studies on correlates of immune protection (in vaccinated as well as naturally infected individuals), assessment of antibody and antigen-specific responses in SARS-CoV-2 infected and naïve individuals immunised with COVID-19 vaccines, efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in previously infected individuals, and potential scope of single-dose vaccination in such individuals to boost immune response, determining the need and timing of a third COVID-19 vaccine booster dose by measuring antibody titres and their persistence in vaccinees after the second dose of the vaccine and interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccine among others.
Besides, priority areas include clinical research to study changes in COVID-19 mortality/ severity/ hospitalisation after vaccination, research on post COVID syndrome/Long COVID, and assessing differences between asymptomatic and symptomatic cases, if any, clinical trials of repurposed and new drugs and studies to assess the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding women in programmatic mode.