Covid-19 update: Science and tech group set up to look into long-term solutions
Technology is also aiding the government in training its nurses and doctors on various measures to tackle the disease through webinars during the lockdown.Updated: Mar 31, 2020 06:05 IST
With the entire world battling the Covid-19 infection that has killed at least 35,000 people, Indian scientists have come together to help front-line healthcare workers by devising cheaper ventilators, new diagnostics kits that can be manufactured in the country, innovative personal protective equipment, and newer ways to disinfect hospitals.
Now, scientists are looking for long-term solutions like vaccines and drugs to protect against the disease.
Technology is also aiding the government in training its nurses and doctors on various measures to tackle the disease through webinars during the lockdown. Telemedicine is also being offered with out-patient clinics in hospitals getting disrupted.
The country’s principal scientific advisor (PSA), K VijayRaghavan, took to Twitter on Sunday night to inform people about the ongoing science and technology activities. A science and Tech core group has been set up under him that will set priorities and guide research work for Covid-19.
“We have a powerful enemy designed, by chance, over millions of years. It is powerful but unintelligent. Its ways are getting better known each day. For success, we must be relentless, use our science at the right time and place and act intelligently and not randomly. So, our scientists’ task is to address all aspects of the short-, medium-, and long-haul; in a manner where we are never fatigued, but the virus is. We each need to play our part to help the government’s and the world’s efforts succeed,” said Prof VijayRaghavan on Twitter.
We have a powerful enemy designed, by chance, over millions of years. It is powerful but unintelligent. Its ways are getting better known each day. For success, we must be relentless, use our science at the right time and place and act intelligently and not randomly. 3— Principal Scientific Adviser, Govt. of India (@PrinSciAdvGoI) March 29, 2020
The department of science and technology (DST) is mapping the needs of healthcare workers and supporting the projects that have been identified. There are three areas the DST is focussing on –ventilators that can be manufactured easily, better protective equipment for healthcare workers, and solutions for disinfecting places.
“We have already started receiving various designs for ventilators – we are looking for models which are cheap, easy to make so that the production can be scaled up quickly, and are easy to use even at home. Then, we are looking at various types of protective gear, especially body suits for the healthcare workers, and then we are looking at solutions for disinfecting places,” said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, DST.
The PSA gave a shout-out to the team from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, which developed a low-cost ventilator that is currently being validated. It can be manufactured using indigenous components at a cost of Rs 70,000 instead of the Rs 4 lakh that the ventilators currently being used cost. The team was headed by Amitabh Bandyopadhyay from the department of department of biological sciences & bioengineering.
A startup, Scitech Park, from Pune, supported by a DST incubation centre, has developed a negative ion generator that can reduce the viral load in an infected area. A grant of R 1 crore has been given to the company to scale up the project.
The department of biotechnology is also setting up a research consortium to look for newer diagnostic kits, repurposed and novel molecules that can protect against the disease, and vaccines.
Two diagnostic kits developed by Indian companies have been approved for commercial use by the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
Healthcare workers are also relying on technology – webinars have been organised by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi to train doctors and nurses across the country and a 24*7 consultation centre has been started which can provide clinical guidance to doctors across the country.