The Innovations Indian Startups are Coming up with to Combat Covid-19
Published on : Friday 03-04-2020
The coronavirus pandemic, now called Covid-19, is spreading rapidly and has introduced an unprecedented challenge to healthcare systems around the globe. Since the virus has already led businesses across industries to shut down their operations, many healthcare as well as tech startups are coming forward to fight against the pandemic. A Pune-based startup Mylab Discovery became the first Indian firm that gets full approval to make and sell testing kits. The company already shipped the first batch of its testing kits to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru. To beat the deadly virus, the company also says it can supply up to 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits a week and up to 200,000 if needed.
The Government also has introduced a coronavirus risk-tracking app, named Corona Kavach, which is jointly developed by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The app uses persons’ locations to analyze whether they are in contact with coronavirus patients. Besides, the app can provide information about Covid-19 and gain information. It will track the users every hour and then alert them if they have crossed a person who has tested positive for the virus. Currently, the app is in beta version, and available for Android phones on the Google Play Store. Corona Kavach is aimed at providing information about Covid-19 and get information.
To create awareness and defeat the outbreak from spreading, the government is now using the power of social media services, WhatsApp Chatbot For Coronavirus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said citizens to text WhatsApp bot, called MyGov Corona Helpdesk, to receive prompt authoritative answers to their queries related to the coronavirus such as the symptoms of the disease and preventative measures.
In Tirupur, a city in Tamil Nadu, a Coronavirus Disinfectant Tunnel has been built that disinfects when people walk along it. Designed and developed by D Venkatesh, who runs a water treatment company in the city, the tunnel is a first-of-its-kind in Tamil Nadu. The idea for the tunnel inspired by a video from Turkey which showed people being sprayed with disinfectant. The Corona Disinfectant Tunnel is a portable, 16-feet stainless steel structure fitted in a mild steel frame.
Bengaluru-based Bione has build a Covid-19 focussed Microbiome test, which combined with its AI, predictive analysis tools can provide tailored recommendations to individuals to fortify their particular microbiome and thus be more immune to Coronavirus and be able to fight off Covid-19. The company is working towards strengthen preventive healthcare and increasing life expectancy in the county. With the vision of leapfrogging genetic testing and microbiome services in India, Bione have founded Bione Ventures which predicts to empower people to unlock their health and fitness through personalised genetics and microbiome.
Abbott Laboratories, which get the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for the fastest available molecular point-of-care test to check for Covid-19. With this test, it will become possible to unveil positive results in five minutes, while for negative it takes about 13 minutes. It will run on Abbott’s ID Now, which is a small, lightweight and portable platform. It applies molecular technology that takes high value in the scientific community for its accuracy.
The Government Steps
As the public-private efforts are putting collectively to nourish new technologies in MedTech to fight against Covid-19 globally, the Government of India is taking all requisite steps to prevent the spread of the virus in the country. To contain the coronavirus disease from spreading locally, the government is empowering citizens with the right information and taking precautions as per the advisories being issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
The government is also getting inputs concerning individuals and companies who have developed technologies and innovative solutions such as Bioinformatics, datasets, Apps for strengthening the fight against coronavirus, and encouraging them to their contributions in the time of crisis. In order to involve the community in the fight against the pandemic, the government is even asking individuals and companies to share their solutions to help fight coronavirus. Submitted solutions then will be assessed for adoption and those selected will be suitably rewarded.
INR 2.5 Crore Nationwide Rewarding Challenge
According to reports, FMCG firm Marico and ATE Chandra Foundation have launched a nationwide hunt for innovative solutions to healthcare challenges amid the Covid-19 crisis. Marico Innovation Foundation is inviting MedTech entrepreneurs, corporate and innovators to solve the MedTech challenges faced during the pandemic with a prize of Rs 2.5 crore. It has requested to send entries for Innovate2BeatCOVID challenge with having solutions to healthcare challenges as low-cost ventilators/respiratory solutions and Personal Protective Equipment. To participate in the challenges, visit https://www.maricoinnovationfoundation.org/.
PerSapien Innovations, a New Delhi-based company, has turned to produce face masks. Already, the company’s wearable air purifying device and air filters for automobiles earned a place among 10 startups selected to join Google's Launchpad Accelerator program. Using the same material technology to make a single mask that can provide protection of eye, nose, mouth and ear for medical professionals treating Covid-19 patients, the company expects it can help in alleviating mask scarcities in the country.
There are several companies and MedTech startups the government is influencing to help fight the crisis. Last month Startup India, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body specialising in supporting Indian startups, launched the United Against COVID-19 Innovation Challenge calling all MedTech startups, as well as larger companies and researchers, to submit their ideas. And those whose pitches are chosen will have priority access to government procurement programs. Details can be found here.
During the pandemic and to defeat it, researchers at IIT Delhi have also come up with a testing kit that they claim is more affordable. Developed at the Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, the kit has been successful at the laboratory stage, and is now underway clinical trials at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology that has been tasked by the government to authorize new testing innovations. On the other hand, researchers at Roorkee have manufactured more than 150 litres of hand sanitiser that is now being scattered free on the campus. Also, IIT-Guwahati has given life-saving equipment to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), including two real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines (DNA sample analysers) for Covid-19 diagnosis.
These machines are able to assess up to 2,000 samples in 24 hours. The institute is also putting its efforts to develop a vaccine at its Department of Bioscience & Bioengineering.
Meanwhile, IIT Guwahati is developing robotic units that will deliver medicines and food to isolation wards to avoid the exposure of health staff. However, the efforts are underway now.