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India’s Scientific Community Comes to the Fore in Battling COVID-19

Suit sealant ventilator toaster paper strip test scientist projects approved cure COVID 19 India

India’s scientific and engineering community has given us much reason for Indians to be proud of them. They have often risen to face the challenges faced by the country, the latest COVID-19 crisis being no exception. A series of innovative breakthroughs and smart engineering has been garnering global attention in the past couple of days, showing the determination of New India to combat the COVID-19 pandemic that India faces.

India's first Low Cost Paper-Strip Test for Covid-19 – A Breakthrough

A team of Indian scientists from the Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology (IGIB), the premier laboratory of Coouncil of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have successfully developed a low-cost, paper-strip test which can detect COVID-19 within an hour. The test uses cutting-edge gene-editing tools to target and identify the genomic sequences of COVID19 in the samples of suspected individuals, as reported by Mint.

What makes it even more exciting is that unlike the PCR test in use for diagnosis of Covid-19 in India, the paper-strip test costs nine times less at ₹500. Also, it also does not require very skilled manpower for usage, which makes it easy to deploy for mass testing as the number of cases rise for isolation to contain the spread.

DST Approves Research Projects on Combating COVID-19

In more news of hope, he Department of Science and Technology– Science and Engineering Board (DST-SERB) selected and approved the first set of 5 projects which will be supported for further development into implementable technologies. The projects are as follows:

  • Identification of global metabolite biomarkers in CoVID-19 infected patients for targeted therapy: This will identify the global metabolite biomarkers in CoVID-19 infected patients. It will help in search of potential biomarker signature for CoVID infection, enabling faster discovery of a cure for COVID-19.
  • Development of functionalized inanimate surfaces with repurposable multi-targeted viricidal agents/drugs for preventive and cost-effective antiviral applications: It will help develop viricidal coatings for inanimate surfaces used in healthcare settings such as surgical masks for the prevention of infectious diseases caused by highly contagious pathogens such as severe acute respiratory syndrome-related novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. This will enable PPE to be disease free, increasing its lifespan.
  • Development of antiviral surface coatings to prevent the spread of infections caused by influenza virus: The project aims to develop small molecular and polymeric compounds which will be coated, both covalently as well as non-covalently, on various surfaces and kill respiratory viruses completely upon contact. This helps for all kinds of protective equipment for the same.
  • Development of formulations for viral decontamination of inanimate surfaces: This will help develop material which may be used as a virus tactic and be applied to mops to disinfect the surfaces to remove any adhering viruses or bacteria.
  • Antibody-based capture of 2019-nCoV and its inactivation using lipid-based in situ gel: This project will help to find a cure for COVId-19 using two distinct approaches – develop antibodies against the receptor-binding domain of the spike glycoprotein of CoV involved in recognizing a host cell-surface receptor; and, develop unsaturated free fatty acid-based emulsion loaded in-situ gels to inactivate the virus at the point of entry.
India’s Toaster Sized Ventilator, Toast of the World

Al Jazeera reported about the toaster sized ventilator developed by NOIDA based Agva Healthcare which costs five times less than conventional ventilators across the world.

The makers told Al Jazeera that the ventilator which weighing just 3.5 kilos will help move less critical patients back to their homes as their machine is easy to transport and install, and does not need much power. It will also enable intermediate facilities to cater as ICU units if needed. Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest passenger car maker, has pledged to help AgVa ramp up production after the government called on all auto firms to contribute to the anti-coronavirus effort.

Wipro 3D Ties Up with Kerala college to Manufacture Automated Ventilators

With the continued focus on ventilators, institutes and industries are tying up to expedite the process. Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in Kerala has tied up with Wipro 3D, Bengaluru to jointly build up on a prototype of an emergency ventilator system based on Artificial Manual Breathing Unit (AMBU), developed by SCTIMST followed by its clinical trial and manufacture.

The ventilators can help meet urgent requirements arising out of the COVID-19 related crisis that the country is facing. This AMBU Ventilator is designed to assist the breathing of the critical patients who have no access to ICU ventilators. For enabling rapid production, the device is designed with readily available components so that it becomes an alternative solution. It provides ventilation support to the needy and is an ideal solution for ventilation shortages. The automatic device also minimizes the need of support personnel in the isolation room, thereby enabling a safer and effective lung-protective operation to COVID patients.

Wipro 3D responded to the Expression of Interest (EoI) invited by Sree Chitra. We held an elaborate discussion with technical teams and assessed the prototype. The tie-up involved joint further improvements and developments, clinical trials, and production. This agreement was executed on fast track mode with the genuine intention of both parties to collaborate and offer support to the nation in the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic.

DRDO develops bio suit with seam sealing glue to keep health professionals safe

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a bio suit to keep the medical, paramedical and other personnel engaged in combating COVID-19 safe from the deadly virus. The suit has been prepared with the help of the industry and subjected to rigorous testing for textile parameters as well as protection against synthetic blood, which exceeds the criteria defined for body suits by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

The suit uses a special sealant as an alternative to seam sealing tape based on the sealant used in submarine applications. This is believed to be a potential game changer for the textile industry. The DRDO can mass produce this glue through industry to support the seam sealing activity by suit manufacturers.

Industry has also geared up for producing the suit in large quantities. M/s Kusumgarh Industries is producing the raw material, coating material, with the complete suit being manufactured with the help of another vendor. The current production capacity is 7,000 suits per day. Another vendor is being brought in with the experience in garment technology and efforts are on to ramp up the capacity to 15,000 suits per day. 

This swiftness of the Indian scientific community in responding to the call of the nation at a time of crisis is indeed heart-warming to note. The scale and cost along with innovation will certainly help India move forward and take pole position in the healthcare industry for years to come.