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Ministry Of Human Resource Development Tasks Indian Institute Of Technology To Provide Technical Help To Fight COVID-19

Ministry Of Human Resource Development Tasks Indian Institute Of Technology To Provide Technical Help To Fight COVID-19
India has 4,281 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
New Delhi: 

In wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, central government turned to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) to seek technical help. According to a spokesperson from IIT Guwahati, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has asked all IITs to submit comprehensive plans to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak. He also said that HRD Ministry has received technical support to from different IITs to help combat the novel coronavirus which has claimed over 70,000 lives worldwide. 

There was a video conference held by Amit Khare, HRD ministry Secretary, with the directors of all IITs on March 30. In the conference Mr. Khare asked the institutes to propose short-term and medium-term technology solution plans to combat COVID-19. He also asked tasked the institutes to come up with long-term plans to help prepare for such medical emergencies in future, he told NDTV.  

A few IITs have already proposed some technical ideas to the HRD Ministry, the spokesperson said. NDTV reached out to the IITs which have presented some innovative ideas to the HRD Ministry to combat COVID-19.

IIT Hyderabad and IIT Kanpur devise low-cost ventilator

IIT Hyderabad Director Professor B.S. Murty said that he suggested to the HRD Ministry to consider adopting bag valve masks, an existing technology, as an inexpensive, easier-to-make option to address shortage for ventilators. Bag valve masks are compact, handheld and self-inflatable devices used to deliver breathing support in emergency situations.

It would be easy to design a similar device powered by an electrical source, which could be a car battery, apart from the conventional power supply. It could be made portable, making it conducive for adoption in villages and other areas without a power supply and be inexpensive enough to manufacture in bulk, said a statement issued by the institute.

Prof Murty and Prof V. Eswaran from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at IIT Hyderabad in the statement say that the device could be manufactured for less than Rs 5,000, which is “one-hundredth the cost of a conventional machine”.

The cost of manufacturing 6 million of these devices will probably be less than that of  60,000 conventional machines. The cost is so low that it can be considered a single-use device. It needs to be manufactured, however, on an industrial scale, in millions, within a short time of a few months, reads the statement.

Prof Murty says that the idea of using bag valve masks is not new. Over the past few weeks, many countries have come up with the idea of manufacturing low-cost ventilators. Several designs could be realised through 3D printers and churned out at a small scale, he says. 

On the other hand, the Bio Science and Bio Engineering department of IIT Kanpur has prepared a design of live saver portable ventilator. The prototype of this ventilator will be ready within 3-4 days and just after assembling, it can be used as life support system, a spokesperson from the institute told NDTV.

Professor Amitabh Bandopadhyay from Bio Science and Bio Engineering department said the ventilators will be priced at Rs 70,000 each against the Rs 4 lakh versions currently in use. This will help fulfil the need for thousands of portable ventilators in future to strengthen the health system of country.

IIT Delhi develops a cheaper test kit

IIT-Delhi's Kusuma School of Biological Sciences has developed a test kit that is expected to reduce the cost of COVID-19 diagnosis considerably. The kit, according to the media cell of IIT Delhi, has successfully diagnosed the virus at the laboratory stage, and is now under clinical trials at the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

Once it clears the clinical trials, it will make testing for the novel coronavirus cheaper and widely available, the IIT-Delhi Media Cell informed NDTV.  However, they have refused to comment on the cost difference at this stage.

The pricing for the COVID-19 test, using the kit has not been decided yet, however there is a price cap of Rs 4,500 on coronavirus testing, imposed by the government.

IIT Guwahati develops robots to deliver food and medicines

The researchers from IIT Guwahati's Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering departments are developing two robots for delivery of food and medicine and collection of contagious waste, in the COVID-19 infected isolation wards. A team member told NDTV, 

Out of the two robots, one will be for medicine and food delivery to isolation wards, which can be customised as per the needs of the hospital. On the other hand, the second robot will be specifically for toxic and contagious waste collection from these isolation wards.

The researchers believe that this innovation will reduce human intervention in isolation wards, hence ensuring more safety for the frontline workers surrounded by the pandemic.

IIT Guwahati is also in the process of setting up an advanced research centre and laboratory for COVID-19 analysis. This would help the entire Northeast region to test for COVID-19, a spokesperson from IIT Guwahati informed NDTV. 

They are also working on making handheld temperature measuring units, ICU beds, ventilators, medical waste disposal for isolation wards, disinfection showers, hand sanitisers and preventive masks as per the guidelines proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Department of Design, meanwhile, has developed a 3D-printed prototype of full-face shield, including head gear, which can immediately be scaled up in manufacturing,, the spokesperson from IIT Guwahati told NDTV.

IIT-Bombay comes up with a tracking app

An expert from IIT-Bombay has revealed to NDTV that students and alumni have together developed an app called ‘Corontine' that can help and alert authorities about quarantine violations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that social distancing and quarantining suspected carriers of coronavirus is a key strategy to prevent COVID-19 transmission. 

Using Corontine, the suspected carriers could be registered on the app and then tracked using GPS technology. If anyone registered on the app violates the quarantine regulations, the app will send SMS or e-mail alerting the concerned authority.

The masks, protective gear, test kits and cheaper ventilators fall in the short term proposals category and can soon be implemented at scale. 

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