How IITs Are Helping India Fight Coronavirus

Government-owned hospitals in India don’t have adequate resources to deal with a rapidly increasing number of Covid-19 cases. Doctors’ and other health professionals who are at the forefronts of the battle have to work without a protective gear. Hospitals don’t have ventilators.

Doctors have complained about that they don’t have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to gear themselves. They do not have adequate infrastructure or help.

On 30th March, Amit Khare, the HRD Ministry Secretary held a video conference with IIT Directors. In the conference, he asked the IITians of their short term and long term tech solution plans to fight Coronavirus.

Responding to this call, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) across the country are coming up with innovative solutions.

Cheaper testing kit, hand sanitizers, personal protective equipment (PPE), and an app to monitor quarantine violations – they are coming out with all kind of solution.

Jeevan Lite

IIT Hyderabads Center for Healthcare Entrepreneurship incubated startup Aerobiosys Innovations on Friday said it has developed a low-cost, portable emergency-use ventilator. The device, Jeevan Lite, offers protection to health care providers as well as it is Internet of Things-enabled and can be operated through a phone app. It can also be battery-operated, enabling its deployment in areas without assured power supply, the institute said in a release. The Minimal Viable Product with the required functionality of this ventilator has already been developed. Pursuant to device certification, Aerobiosys Innovations aims to produce at least 50 to 70 units per day through collaboration with an Industrial Partner.

B S Murty, Director, IIT Hyderabad, said, senior citizens and elderly patients affected by COVID-19 will need ventilators for emergency life support and that Aerobiosys has gone one step ahead by providing personal protection to the healthcare providers through IoT-enabled monitoring. “Jeevan Lite can perform both the invasive and non- invasive ventilation across a comprehensive set of modes and settings.

It can be used for pediatric and adult patients and will work on rechargeable lithium-ion Batteries in an uninterrupted manner for five hours without power supply, the release said. Renu John, Faculty Co-Head, CfHE said Jeevan Lite, unlike other low-cost models, is loaded with features, including wireless connectivity and remote monitoring that makes it unique and equipped to meet the demands of a pandemic situation like the COVID-19 infection. 

Drone equipped with infrared camera

Three alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed a drone equipped with infrared camera which can help in thermal screening of groups without human intervention and identify suspected COVID-19 cases at an early stage once the lockdown is lifted. The drone also has a loudspeaker which can be used by personnel to monitor places especially with high disease prevalence and give appropriate instructions. The alumni team from IIT Guwahati, which has founded a start up called Marut Dronetech, is already conducting trial runs in coordination with state governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh besides Trichy Municipal Corporation.

“Once the lockdown is eased, and people start gathering it will be difficult to ensure social distancing and hence enhanced risk of virus spread till the time situation is completely in control,” Prem Kumar Vislawath, an electronic and communications engineering graduate, told PTI. “Drones are being made for lot of other activities including delivery of foods and medicines and spraying disinfectants, we realised that to limit the risk of the personnel getting infected while conducting temperature checks, drones equipped with infrared cameras to test temperature measurements can be used,” he said.

New testing innovations

Researchers at IIT-Delhi have developed a test kit that promises to slash the cost of diagnosing Covid-19. The kit, developed at the Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, has been successful at the laboratory stage, and is now undergoing clinical trials at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV), which has been tasked by the government to validate new testing innovations.

Once it clears the clinical trials, says the team behind the kit, it will make testing for the novel coronavirus cheaper and widely available. However, they have refused to comment on the cost difference at this stage.

Herbal hand Sanitiser

Led by students Siddharth Sharma and Vaibhav Jain, an IIT-Roorkee team has prepared more than 150 litres of a herbal hand sanitiser. Personal hygiene and regular cleaning of hands is believed to one of the most important Covid-19 prevention techniques, and medical experts have advised keeping sanitisers at hand to reduce the risk of contamination.

The herbal hand sanitiser has been developed in line with recommendations offered by the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US government’s health research institute. It is being distributed free of cost at the IIT-Roorkee campus.

Other innovative solutions

IIT Guwahati has designed PCR machines to analyse DNA samples for the diagnosis of the Coronavirus. This machine will be able to analyse up to 2000 samples in 24 hours.

The Bio-engineering department at IIT-G has also started efforts in the development of the vaccination. In an official statement released by IIT Guwahati, the institute authorities said, “As there are no approved drugs presently available for the disease, the faculty members are in the process of developing small molecules inhibitors for the treatment of COVID-19 using modern biotechnological tools.”

IIT-G is also moving in the direction of making lifesize robots. These robots will be able to carry and serve medicines and food to patients. This will be a good step in decreasing the health worker’s risk while in Isolation Wards.

IIT-H has designed an alternative to ventilators. They call it the “Bag Valve Mask”. It is an existing technology used for respiratory patients. It is inexpensive, easy-to-make and hand-held option to address any surge in demand for ventilators. The self-inflatable device is used to deliver breathing support in emergencies.

IIT-Guwahati’s chemistry and bioscience & bioengineering departments are together developing prototypes of waterproof protective gear that come with an antiviral coating. Additionally, design experts at the institute have created a 3D-printed prototype of a full-face shield, including headgear, whose manufacturing, they say, can be scaled up immediately.

IIT Roorkee has developed a low-cost portable ventilator that can be useful for COVID-19 patients. Named ‘Prana-Vayu,’ the closed-loop ventilator is developed in collaboration with AIIMS, Rishikesh, and is equipped with state-of-the-art features.

Prana-Vayu has been designed especially for COVID-19 pandemic. It is low-cost, safe, reliable, and can be quickly manufactured. We have successfully achieved the ventilatory requirement on a test lung, and it can be used for both infants and even overweight adults.

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