Covid-19 updates: What are IIT-ians doing against the Coronavirus?

By : |April 2, 2020 0
All IIT alumnus, teachers, and current students have geared up literally and metaphorically, to fight against Coronavirus.

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. He also asked what they were planning to prepare for such medical emergencies in the future. In the light of the COVID-19, tech institutes are asked to play their part. Their endeavours will be further scaled up and funded for nationwide use.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has posed a lot of challenges to the healthcare system. Doctors, healthcare workers have all complained that they don’t have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to gear themselves. They do not have adequate infrastructure or help. Although the Government has vowed to help, so has the Ministry of Defense, the Indian Engineering hub is also working in the same direction. Here’s a brief of what the IITians are doing:

IIT Guwahati

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.

They are working to develop a protective gear that will be equipped with antiviral coatings. The institute has further aimed to develop robotic screening units. They are also working on life-saving equipment like- ICU Beds, Ventilators, hand sanitisers, preventive masks, disinfectant showers and waste disposal systems. The department of design has also developed a 3D full face shield and headgear.

At IIT Guwahati, students have developed drones for surveillance for the government. They can use these drones to keep an eye on people under quarantine. These drones will also be able to carry upto 25 litres of sanitizer to spray in public areas.

IIT Delhi

IIT Delhi has launched a program to manufacture cheap testing kits. This promising item will be cost-effective in the face of Community Transmission. Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, along with technicians and researchers of IIT Delhi have tested the kit in the laboratory. The kit will later undergo safety and healthcare trials in National Institute of Virology, Pune.

Earlier this year, a startup from IIT Delhi also introduced an AI named Buddhi. It is a DIY AI for students around the world to learn the basics of AI and build AI-based solutions. While people are under lockdown, Buddhi could be useful to teach children.

IITians are also working to make PPEs for healthcare personnel optimised to provide a barrier to blood or microbes. They have also made their hand sanitizer. Isopropyl alcohol (75%) and Aloe Vera are the main constituents of the sanitizer.

IIT Roorkee

Siddharth Sharma and Vaibhav Jain, the two IITians have prepared a herbal hand sanitiser. The sanitizer follows all WHO guidelines. After WHO’s statement that personal hygiene and sanitation is one of the most important prevention technique, IIT-R has advised all its students to keep sanitizers. IIT-R also distributed this sanitizer to the students free of cost. “This IIT Roorkee-incubated product will be useful to the entire community by promoting basic hygiene,” said a researcher of the Roorkee campus.

The IITians have also handed over the sanitizer to the office of the dean for Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy (SRIC). The product is stated to be commercially produced.

IIT Bombay

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay has developed an app to track COVID-19 patients and cases. Corontine, the app, is a platform that tracks and monitors patients. This app will prove beneficial in case the number of patients rises. An asymptomatic patient can download the app, which will later send the GPS coordinates of the mobiles periodically. The app is flexible, ready to use and scalable. Manjesh Hanawal, assistant professor in Industrial Engineering Operations Research will present the app to Niti Ayog.

The app will check if patients are following their quarantine guidelines. In the case of non-movement of the patient, the app will also notify so that authorities can go check the patient. The app allows geo-fencing, generating alerts for quarantined patients.

IIT Hyderabad

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-Hyderabad has designed a product which will work even without a power supply. Quoting Prof Murty and Prof V. Eswaran from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at IIT-Hyderabad, they say that they can manufacture the device for less than Rs 5,000, “or one-hundredth the cost of a conventional machine”.

The idea is not novel. Many scholars have proposed it in the past. However, the product designed by the IITians at Hyderabad has won over with its low price and easy scalability. The professors at IIT say that the government can realise several designs through 3D printers and churn them out at a small scale.

IIT Kharagpur

Even during the lockdown, professors of IIT Kharagpur are working from home. Professor Santanu Dhara and Professor Sangeeta Das Bhattacharya, researchers at the School of Medical Science and Technology at IIT Kharagpur have made prototype face shields for healthcare workers. They have designed a basic PPE for healthcare workers. The gears include full-body suits, protective gloves, goggles, gowns and face-shields.

The students at IIT Kharagpur have created videos in 12 regional Indian languages to ensure awareness about COVID-19. The languages are: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.

IIT Kanpur

IIT Kanpur has released online tutorials of Python available in English and Hindi. The premier institution has an online incubator called Nocca Robotic. They have designed a low-cost ventilator. This will be priced at INR 70,000; one-sixth of the current versions priced at INR 4,00,000. The ventilator is still on the testing stage.

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