How World-Class Institutes Leaned in to Innovate Healthcare Against COVID-19?

by April 27, 2020

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, couldn’t have been more hazardous. The pandemic has infected millions of people across the world to date. Hospitals, corporates, industries, educational institutions – all are facing the wrath of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). The world has united to fight against this hazard. Following the guidelines of WHO (World Health Organization), vulnerable countries including India and others are into lockdown, practicing social distancing to contain the spread of the virus. Amid these, all corporate organizations across the world have offered work from home to their employees and various institutes have given access to online classes to their students.

Furthermore, top institutes across India and other countries are working progressively to innovate healthcare facilities in response to coronavirus pandemic. Let’s go ahead and explore these institutes that have redefined the medical care ecosystem.


IITs (Indian Institute of Technology)

The IIT-Delhi has developed a COVID-19 test kit which recently got the approval of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). As per the ANI report, Vivekanandan Perumal, Professor at IIT-Delhi said, “We started working on it by the end of January and got it ready in three months. We wanted to contribute to affordable low-cost diagnostics that could be used in large numbers.” According to him, it is a swab testing kit and the testing will be cheaper than all existing devices as the device is affordable for commercial production.

Moreover, a student group at the institute has designed an application to trace people who may have come in close contact with those with coronavirus infection.

The IIT-Kharagpur has received approval from the Centre to initiate Research and Development work related to Covid-19 for which it had submitted a list of projects to the IIT Council. The institute’s researchers would be working on several technologies including design and development of rapid diagnostic kit, real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, and bodysuits for Covid-19 patients, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and portable shredder integrated with sterilizer, noted News18.

Moreover, alumni of the institute Debayan Saha and an AIIMS alumni Shashi Ranjan have collaboratively developed a device known as Airlens Minus Corona. The device can travel on streets in order to sterilize the city and reach hospitals, bus stops, railway stations, shopping malls and other public places for the same.

The IIT-Ropar has developed a trunk-shaped device fitted with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation technology, which they recommend be placed at doorsteps and all items brought from outside including grocery and currency notes be put in it to sanitize them and aid the fight against COVID-19. As noted by a PTI report, the trunk when commercialized, can be available at less than Rs 500. The device will take 30 minutes to sanitize the items and the team has recommended a 10 minute cooling off period before one takes the items out.

Also, a BTech student, named Sahil Verma, at the institute has developed an application (mobile app) known as Sampark-o-Meter. The app indicates areas on maps with maximum possibility of COVID-19 infection and generates a risk score analyzing various factors. This app can alert people to take precautionary measure including self-quarantine or consulting a physician.

The IIT-Kanpur incubated startup NOCCA Robotics in collaboration with Ansys, a global engineering simulation company is developing low-cost ventilators to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in India. As per the PTI report, an invasive ventilator is the most recommended type of ventilator for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This subsequently makes it even more suitable for COVID-19 affected patients for respiratory support. It is suitable for India as it ensures the safety of frontline doctors dealing with the patients. Moreover, engineers at NOCCA Robotics have prototypes of a portable machine ready. They are being tested on artificial lungs, a prosthetic device that provides oxygen and removes carbon dioxide from the blood.

The IIT-Bombay has leaned in to develop nasal gel to fight Coronavirus! A statutory body under the supervision of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has announced that it will be supporting a new technology focussed on capturing and inactivation of the Coronavirus inside human beings. The technology is under development by IIT Bombay’s Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering (DBB). According to a Financial Express report, the team is working to develop a gel that can be applied to the human nasal passage which serves as a primary entry point for the Coronavirus into human beings. IIT team has adopted a 2-pronged approach to tackle the Coronavirus inside human beings, a release from the Ministry of Science & Technology states.

Additionally, a team of students and alumni at the Bombay-based institute has developed an app called Corontine to enable better tracking the potential or suspected asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus if they escape quarantine zone.

The IIT-Roorkee Professor Kamal Jain has designed a surveillance system that possesses the ability to trace individuals while enabling a geofencing around him. Later, the system can send an alert to the local authorities if any quarantined individual crosses the geofencing. As claimed by Prof. Jain, if the GPS data is not received, then automatically the location will be sent by the triangulation of mobile towers. And even if the internet services go down in certain area, the location will be delivered through SMS.

The IIT-Guwahati researchers have developed a low-cost UVC LED-based disinfection system and also addressing the critical need of the material required for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The team is set to work along with a Bengaluru-based company Excel Tech and Guwahati based Ultimate Aeroaqua Filter Private Limited in order to come up with two technological innovations. As claimed by the institute, the UVC system is a proven technology to sanitise the microorganism infected non-porous surface.

The IIT-Hyderabad also has designed a low-cost, portable, emergency-use ventilator. The institute’s Center for Healthcare Entrepreneurship (CfHE) incubated startup Aerobiosys Innovations has developed the ‘Jeevan Lite’ which is enabled with the innovation of IoT (Internet of Things). It can be operated via a phone app and offers protection to healthcare providers. The ventilator can perform both the invasive and non-invasive ventilation across a comprehensive set of modes and settings and is set to be leveraged for pediatric and adult patients.


NITs (National Institute of Technology)

The NIT-Karnataka has come up with an innovative solution against COVID-19 as a result of its ongoing research to contain virus. The institute has developed a ‘disinfection chamber’ in order to destroy the virus contaminating the surface of objects, ‘splits’ to double the capacity of ventilators, ‘laser-cut face shields’ and ‘N95 masks’. As noted by a Deccan Herald report, Professor and Head, Department of Chemistry, NITK-Surathkal Dr Arun M Isloor said by learning from mistakes of European countries and USA (where health care providers were forced to reuse safety gears due to acute scarcity of disposable items) they decided on a simple solution to fight the crisis in India.

The NIT-Durgapur has developed an automated artificial breathing device, to curb the shortage and meet the rising demand of ventilators against in response to coronavirus. The indigenously-built Artificial Manual Breathing Unit (AMBU) has undergone a “successful clinical trial on a small scale in the initial stage”, NIT Durgapur Director Anupam Basu told PTI. “The AMBU can be called a simplified ventilator in which the volume of oxygen can be controlled uniformly through automation,” he said.


Other World-Class Universities in Service

The Oxford University scientists have claimed they will be able to come up with a vaccine for coronavirus by September this year even though the regulatory filings indicate otherwise. The estimated study completion date for Oxford University’s drug candidate ChAdOx1 is May 2021, as per the filings. Lead researcher of the vaccine development programme, Prof Sarah Gilbert, said that she and her team were confident that ChAdOX1 vaccine can work against the coronavirus. The group has promised that they will make one million vaccine doses available by September, noted Business Today.

The ChAdOx1 is the fourth COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the world which has entered the clinical trial phase of vaccine development.

Harvard University has announced recently that it will allow the use of non-exclusive and royalty-free licenses of patents covering technologies aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, joining several other top universities. The institute is committing to the COVID-19 Technology Access Framework, a set of technology licensing principles that aim to “incentivize and allow for the broadest and equitable access to university innovations,” according to the university’s Office of Technology Development (OTD). Stanford, Yale, and MIT have also committed to the framework.

Considering the flooding of patients in hospitals and shortages of critical medical supplies and devices, a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing low-cost ventilators in order to help hospitals meet the growing demand for them. The team consists of engineers, physicians and computer scientists who began working on the project earlier this month after the university received numerous messages urging them to resume a project from a decade ago, in which a group of students designed and tested an inexpensive ventilator device, but only published a paper on it, according to a statement from MIT.

Ventilators, which help patients breathe when they’re physically unable to, typically cost US$30,000, according to MIT, but the university said the device they are developing could be built with about US$100 worth of parts.