Covid-19 vs COPAL-19: Meet Delhi’s engineering students who powered plasma donor app with AIIMS doc
IIT-Delhi students Kaashika Prajaapat and Tushar Chaudhary, and an MSIT student Tanay Aggarwal have worked with Dr Abhinav Singh Verma from AIIMS, to develop a plasma bank for speedy recovery of Covid-19 patients.Updated: Jul 06, 2020 18:13 IST
Though there is no breakthrough in developing a vaccine for Covid-19 yet, the youngsters of the country are leaving no stone unturned to back India’s brave fight against the pandemic. Meet engineering students Tushar Chaudhary, Kaashika Prajaapat, and Tanay Aggarwal, who have collaborated with Dr Abhinav Singh Verma from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. Together they have successfully developed the COPAL-19 app, which will help build a plasma donor bank to speed up recovery of Covid-19 patients.
“We had been working on a Medical Facility Tracker. When we launched it, people suggested other problems that can be solved though apps. And one of the issues was the lack of routing between plasma donors and Covid-19 patients.” – Kaashika Prajaapat, student, IIT-Delhi
Prajaapat, a fourth year Computer Science and Engineering undergraduate at Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Delhi, says, “I had been creating a Medical Facility Tracker that could help people locate things like the nearest hospital for treatment against Covid-19, the number of beds available in that hospital etc. I was working on this with my friend Tanay, a student of Maharaja Surajmal Institute Of Technology (affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University). When we launched the tracker, a lot of people came to us to discuss about what other problems can be solved though mobile apps. And one of the issues we found pertinent was the lack of routing between plasma donors and Covid-19 patients. We started work to create a prototype. And Tushar, who is my senior at IIT-D, connected us with Dr Abhinav Singh Verma from AIIMS, who was also aiming at solving the same problem. That’s how we all collaborated and took this initiative further.”
“There have been a lot of cases where people have died because of the unavailability of plasma, and we wanted to do something about it,” says Chaudhary, adding, “The app helps to connect those patients who need plasma therapy with the potential donors, well in time for the treatment to begin. We coordinated with Dr Verma and developed the app digitally! So, this was majorly a remote project. Phone calls and video conferencing is what helped us remain in touch as we developed the app during these odd times.”
In absence of a Covid-19 vaccine, the age old plasma therapy is proving useful to reduce the viral load, making COPAL-19 app a crucial software. The Resident Neurosurgeon at AIIMS Delhi informs that the idea for one such app was propelled by the need to find a plasma donor for his senior. Dr Verma adds, “We wanted matching plasma for one of our senior doctors who had turned Covid-19 positive. And it took a group of 50 doctors almost one full day to arrange it! Still they managed to find only two donors. At that point, I realised what a crisis it is and thought of how can it be solved with a simple solution to make a smart database of plasma donors.”
Calling COPAL-19 app the need of the hour, Chaudhary adds, “If a doctor had to face so much trouble to get plasma donors, wonder what common people would have been facing... That’s how the idea for COPAL-19 was born.”
Thus the engineering students acted quickly and moved from the ideation stage to the execution within a matter of few days. “It took a week from ideation to prototyping. We worked day and night to get the permissions and to have a working prototype launched. It will now be made available pan India, on the playstore, within a week or two,” says Prajaapat, sharing that the team is also in touch with Karnataka government to further spread the word about the app.
Talking about the response so far, Prajaapat adds, “Though it’s not yet a published app since we are seeking certain permissions, people have already registered themselves as donors and have voluntarily come forward to save people who are infected and in need of plasma.”
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