Experts discuss how STIP 2020 can help the country become futureready & face situations like COVID-19
Dr V.K. Saraswat, Member, Niti Aayog highlighted how COVID-19 created opportunities and will have profound long-term consequences while Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST), underlined how the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 would make us future-ready to face such situations, at a webinar. COVID-19 has hugely impacted the world, but it has also shown us the way forward, Dr Saraswat said at the webinar on DST Golden Jubilee Discourse Series - On the other side of the Pandemic - organised by National Council for Science & Technology Communication and Vigyan Prasar.
Indian economy to bounce back soon from effects of COVID-19: NITI Aayog Vice Chairman
At a webinar organized to celebrate 50 years of the DST, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, Dr Rajiv Kumar emphasised that the Indian economy would be among the top economies in the world in the next few years using science, technology, and innovation in all sectors, bouncing back soon after the effects of COVID-19. “Steps and reforms have been taken by the Government in all the sectors, like agriculture, modern medicine, traditional medicine, New Education Policy, Small & Medium Enterprises, labour sector and so on, to target being among the world’s top three economies possible,” he said at the webinar on DST Golden Jubilee Discourse Series - On the other side of the Pandemic - organised by National Council for Science & Technology Communication and Vigyan Prasar.
Dignitaries deliberate on The Other Side of the Pandemic as part of DST Golden Jubilee Discourse series
Dignitaries discussed the challenges and opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic brought out at an online panel discussion on ‘The Other Side of the Pandemic’ organized as part of the DST Golden Jubilee Discourse series commemorating 50 years of DST. “This theme has two different sides. The compelling lessons that we learn from this pandemic and how to translate them into practice of doing Science, Technology, and innovation is one, and the other is the challenges and new opportunities. The other side of pandemic could refer to the opportunities that we wish to explore together, and we have to keep leveraging these opportunities,” Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Professor Ashutosh Sharma explained.
COVID-19 on downtrend, but we need to be more careful in next 3-4 months: DST Secretary
COVID-19 is on the downtrend, Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, pointed out while praising the efforts of all sectors in COVID-19 time that helped India to take steps towards being Atmanirbhar in medical field. He added that, however, in view of the number of festivals in the coming months, there is a strong possibility of transmission. “If we look and analyse the data and number of cases, it can certainly be said that it is on the downtrend. But this is conditional, and this is also the time people need to be more careful. We have to religiously follow the COVID-19 protocols given by the Government. People need to wear mask at all times, wash their hands regularly, take social distancing very seriously and take all the precautions,” Prof. Sharma said during a lecture as part of the DST Golden Jubilee Discourse Series.
New-age sustainable disinfectants and sanitizers may bring relief from chemical ones with side effects
The days of suffering from dry, itching hands due to rinsing them multiple times with chemical disinfectants and soap as protection against contact infection of COVID-19 may soon be over. A number of start-ups based in different parts of India are now armed with a range 2 of sustainable alternatives to conventional chemical-based decontaminants that can disinfect surfaces and even microcavities. They also include technologies for disinfection of the biomedical waste generated at hospitals and the use of novel nanomaterials and chemical process innovations for long-lasting and safe sterilization of the recurrent use surfaces. Safe disinfection and sanitization technologies have come from a total of 10 companies supported for disinfectants and sanitizers under Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST, implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay.
New age sustainable disinfectants and sanitizers may bring relief from chemical ones with side effects
The days of suffering from dry, itching hands due to rinsing them multiple times with chemical disinfectants and soap as protection against contact infection of COVID-19 may soon be over. A number of start-ups based in different parts of India are now armed with a range of sustainable alternatives to conventional chemical-based decontaminants that can disinfect surfaces and even microcavities. Safe disinfection and sanitization technologies have come from a total of 10 companies supported for disinfectants and sanitizers under Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST and implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay. Mumbai-based start-up Inphlox Water Systems, with expertise in treating complex polluted water and wastewater, modified their technology to design and develop a system for space and equipment disinfection to fight COVID-19 contamination, titled VAJRA. Inphlox Water Systems, which started with the Nidhi Prayas grant from DST (through IIT Bombay) for innovations in the water sector, used the CAWACH grant from DST to modify their technology to make it suitable for combating the COVID-19 infection. At present, they are coordinating with IIT Bombay’s and CCMB’s (Hyderabad) virology labs for further testing of these systems. The start-up is ready with commercial product versions and is working on improving product certifications so that specialized labs can also use their solutions. Coimbatore-based Eta Purification offers advanced sterilization solutions. It is using environmentally-sound micro-cavity plasma technology. This novel technology, where the disinfectant is produced directly from air or oxygen offers a sustainable alternative to conventional chemical-based decontamination.
The COSMO (Complete Sterilization by Microplasma Oxidation) system can rapidly disinfect COVID-19 infected areas, including quarantine facilities, ambulatory care, and equipment surfaces. This innovative micro-plasma sterilization system offers compact and scalable modular units which are robust, flexible, and energy-efficient. The disinfectant is produced on-site, thereby eliminating the transport, storage, and handling of hazardous chemicals. These decontamination systems are 10 times less than the conventional system of equivalent capacity, making it suitable for resource-constraint environments. They have also taken this innovation to vulnerable communities. Presently their advanced integrated micro-plasma oxidation system for rapid sterilization has been fully developed and tested rigorously for commercial use.
A mechanical hand sanitizing dispenser machine which quantifies the steps of hand sanitization through touch-less, real-time monitoring via dashboard is offered by Chennai-based start-up MicroGO. Pune-based Weinnovate Biosolutions has developed silver nanoparticles based on nonalcoholic liquid sanitizer. Their technology, pending for patent, also inhibits the RNA replication activity – preventing spread of the virus and blocks surface glycoproteins – making the virus ineffective. An instant microwave-based handheld steriliser ATULYA and a microwave-assisted cold sterilization device OPTIMASER for hazardous biomedical waste disinfection and making linen and PPE reusable are the offering from Lucknow-based Maser Technology.
OPTIMASER is microwave-assisted cold sterilisation superior technological advancement over the conventional Autoclave. It allows for disinfection and sterilisation of the PPE Kits and the masks in order to ensure their reusability for 100 times. It also makes the system cost effective. ATULYA is an instant microwave-based handheld sterilizer which offers the cutting edge over the UV tube-based steriliser, sanitising sprays and all the possible methods of sterilisation and protection. Incubators like SINE IIT Bombay FIIT, IIT Delhi, SIIC, IIT Kanpur, HTIC, IIT Madras, Venture Centre, Pune, IKP Knowledge Park, Hyderabad, KIIT-TBI, Bhubaneswar provided timely advice on technical progress, guided the start-ups to follow all necessary guidelines, signing of MoUs and so on. DST Secretary Prof. Ashutosh Sharma said, “Through these and other compelling examples of COVID-19 relevant products and technologies, the deep foundations of the Indian science and technology have rapidly come to fore by a seamless marriage of the knowledge creation and its consumption. The structures and processes which made these extraordinary achievements possible are being incorporated in the upcoming Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020.”
Lucknow lab records shortest average time to process samples among institutions in India
As the COVID-19 patient numbers are recorded, a testing hub in Lucknow for the disease has recorded the shortest average time to process samples among institutions in the country. With 1000 to 1200 samples being tested per day, the story of the rise of Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP), an autonomous institute of the DST, to the top institution not only in the state but throughout the country in terms of average processing time of samples is one of sheer grit and dedication. With a small team of 8 members, the lab is running 24x7 to test samples from various districts of Uttar Pradesh. The number of samples tested by BSIP has crossed 50,000, of which approximately 1600 samples were reported positive for SARS-CoV-2 with zero pendency. Keeping in light the present scenario and to aid the authorities to contain this pandemic, BSIP has provided testing reports (on daily basis) to the concerned districts in record time of 24 hours. BSIP joined hands with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to combat COVID-19 in the state by becoming one of the five Central Government research institutes in Lucknow, which took initial steps to start laboratory testing of COVID-19. Availability of a BSL-2A laboratory, primarily for ancient DNA work in the Institute, became the advantage needed to immediately prepare for testing.
Multiple options for COVID-19 detection kits from start-ups on the cards through support of CAWACH Initiative of NSTEDB, DST
India will soon have the option of choosing from several COVID-19 rapid detection technologies that start-ups are working on currently. A technology to conduct rapid molecular tests at small clinics, points of entry like airports, or small laboratories; a lab-on-palm platform for Rapid Antibody Test; and a test kit with a reader enabling direct antigen testing in suspected COVID-19 samples are some of them. The technologies developed by some start-ups have been repurposed and extended for COVID-19 with support from the Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST, implemented by Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay.
Tracking global genetic variability, predicting viral sequences to resolve COVID-19 challenge
A group of scientists in India is working on genomic sequences of SARS-CoV-2 around the World, including India, to identify genetic variability and potential molecular targets in virus and human to find the best possible answer to combat the COVID-19 virus. Breaking down the novel coronavirus challenge into many pieces to get to its root and see it from multiple directions, Dr Indrajit Saha, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research, Kolkata and his team have developed a web-based COVIDPredictor to predict the sequence of viruses online on the basis of machine learning. The team has analysed 566 Indian SARS-CoV-2 genomes to find the genetic variability in terms of point mutation and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP).
Neurons in the nose & hypothalamus may be entry points of SARS-CoV-2 virus to brain
Scientists have zeroed in on the route in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus makes its way to the brain. Neurons located in the nose that help us sense smell as well as hypothalamus, the small region located at the base the brain, could provide the port of entry for the virus into the brain, says a new study. The study could provide a new understanding to tackle the COVID-19 patients and control the pandemic, which has caused crisis of unprecedented dimensions affecting every continent of the globe. Dr Vincent Prevot, previously a principal investigator supported by the IndoFrench Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA), supported by the DST along with a team of Indian and French scientists, have shown that specialized glial cell called tanycytes in the hypothalamus as well as olfactory neurons could provide an opening for SARS-CoV-2 into the brain. They have also shown that hypothalamic circuits could act as a hub for the numerous risk factors as well as the physiological effects of viral infection. This work has been published in the journal ‘bioRxiv’.
Portable sterilization unit using new hybrid technology can decontaminate PPEs rapidly
Scientists have developed a portable sterilization unit using a new technology called the hybrid sterilization system that can decontaminate personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for combating COVID-19, easily and rapidly, allowing them to be used multiple times. It can be used by health professionals and other COVID warriors for whom PPEs are essential and can prevent generation of hazardous solid waste from PPEs. IIT Tirupati (IITT) and IISER Tirupati have jointly developed the Portable Optical Cavity Sterilization Unit (POSCU) to provide efficient and rapid decontamination of PPE and other household items. A working point-of-use sterilization unit has been developed with the support of Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under the DST.
Canister bag that solidifies infectious secretions like COVID-19 can save health workers from exposure during handling
Infectious secretions from contagious diseases such as COVID-19, tuberculosis (TB), and influenza pose high risk for healthcare workers. Their exposure to the high-risk hazard while handling the waste can soon be controlled with a canister bag that solidifies the secretions rapidly, making disposal safer. 4 For the safe management of infected respiratory secretions, the researchers at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under the DST, Govt. of India, have come up with a method for safe handling and disposal of respiratory secretions in hospitals for ICU patients or those with copious respiratory secretions treated in the wards. They have developed canister bags lined with super-absorbent material containing an effective disinfectant, named “AcryloSorb”.
CeNS surges ahead with COVID solutions & novel nano- and soft-functional materials
The Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) engaged in materials research at all relevant length scales, with current focus on a variety of metal and semiconductor nanostructures, liquid crystals, gels, membranes and hybrid materials has recently contributed significantly to the COVID-19 challenge. When the whole world was debating about the effectiveness and breathing comfort of face masks to fight COVID-19 effectively, its innovation attracted headlines for their uniqueness. One of them was a cup-shaped design of the mask that helps to create enough space in front of the mouth while speaking. It has been transferred to a Bengaluru-based company for mass production.
Eleven Indo-US scientist teams selected to jointly scout for COVID-19 solutions
Eleven teams of Indian and US scientists will soon start jointly scouting for out-of-the-box solutions ranging from novel early diagnostic tests, antiviral therapy, drug repurposing, ventilator research, disinfection machines, and sensor-based symptom tracking for COVID-19. The teams have been selected to take up these initiatives through a rigorous binational review process of proposals received for an invitation under COVID-19 Ignition Grants in April 2020 issued by the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment Fund (USISTEF). The USISTEF announced the awards to eleven bilateral teams proposing out-of-the-box, innovative ideas to address the COVID-19 challenge. The USISTEF has been established by the Government of India (through the DST) and the governments of the United States of America (through the Department of State) for the promotion of joint activities that would lead to innovation and entrepreneurship through the application of science and technology.
Scientific Endeavours by Department of Science & Technology (DST) subsequent to COVID-19 emergence
India was heading towards being a developed economy following the vision of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, by identifying its competence, youth talent and available natural resources. It was the time to break the barriers towards national development and allow free flow of amenities including Information, Communication and Technological aids, that is, solar-powered equipments, smart agriculture practices, and best and new healthcare practices such as telemedicine, to connect with rural people. Food, Water, Sanitation, Education, Healthcare, Energy and Employment security were top regional and national priority to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. All of a sudden in March 2020, the entire world stagnated due to unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 disease, affecting human lives globally and thus changing our national priorities. All Line/Functional Departments/Ministries started working concurrently for management, prevention and corrective procedures such as setting up quarantine centres, treatment facilities, preventive measures, virtual awareness programmes, developing shelter homes, running community kitchens, producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) etc. across the country. This was a crucial time to work for the underprivileged sections of the society, especially farmers, farm workers, artisans and other self-employed or wage-employed workers in rural areas, facing the deprivations and hardships during the lockdown. Some of the initiatives have been listed in the following section.
RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY
Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 (CAWACH) Program
The program is meant to support product, solutions and innovations in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics (drugs, vaccines, devices, ventilators and PPEs, informatics including bio-informatics and information management systems, any intervention) for the control of COVID-19 and/or start-up ideas to address/mitigate various challenges faced by country/society due to severe impact of COVID-19. The Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), the TBI (Technology Business Incubator) supported by DST at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay was identified as the Implementing Agency of the Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH). The CAWACH program has been implemented in partnership with associations with Satellite Centres, Ancillary Centres and partners who are having expertise and track record of supporting start-ups in healthcare areas. The CAWACH centre is in the process of completing the modalities with regards to documentation and finalising the agreements with reference to deliverables, milestones, utilisation of funds etc.
Seed Support System
The NSTEDB, DST-supported Seed Support System (SSS) is to ensure timely availability of the seed support to the deserving incubatee start-ups within an incubator, thereby enabling them to take their venture to next level and facilitate towards their success in the market place. The scheme also enables the incubator to widen their pipeline of start-ups and also share the success of their start-ups which would also result in ensuring their long-term operational sustainability. DST has extended directives to the TBIs to utilise seed fund on priority basis for supporting start-ups working solutions for COVID-19-related challenges. The incubators have also initiated specific calls on this and funded start-ups providing solutions for COVID-19-related challenges.
Initiatives by Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST)
In the wake of the crisis situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the three wings of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) namely the Biomedical Technology Wing (BMT), Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (AMCHSS) and the Hospital Wing have tried their best to face the unprecedented emergency situation. A number of measures have been taken for mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic not only for the institute but also for the entire country with the full utilization of resources and best of its capabilities. Though the institute had to quarantine a number of staff when a foreign-returned doctor was detected with COVID-19 much before the nationwide lockdown, SCTIMST rose up to the occasion to bring out several technologies, products, patient management guidelines etc. that could be crucial to combat the disease not only for the institute, but for the state and entire country. Furthermore, SCTIMST has evolved a fasttrack method to come out with the biomedical devices, technologies and guidelines useful for the management of COVID-19 in the country, in addition to streamlining the management of patients with cardiac and neuro illnesses in the hospital wing.
Biomedical Technology Wing
The BMT wing stood out with its research, technologies and innovations to meet the need of the hour in India’s fight against COVID-19. Around 30 patents have been filed for these technologies. Under the leadership of the Director of the institute, it evolved a fast-track method coordinating the all-round efforts of scientists, engineers and doctors on to developing the following technologies:
1. Chitra Magna RNA Isolation Kit
2. Chitra Rapid Antibody Test Kit
3. Chitra LAMP-N COVID test kit
4. Chitra Embed Nylon Flocked Swab
5. Chitra ENMesh Swabs andVTM Kit
6. AutomatedAMBU ventilator/respirator
7. MediCAB deployable isolation wards, hospitals, ICUs
8. Chitra Isolation Pods
9. Chitra Clinical Examination Booth
10. Chitra Single Chamber Swab Collection Booth
11. UV-based face mask disinfection bin
12. UV-based multipurpose disinfector
13. Chitra Disinfection Gateway and
14. AcryloSorb Advanced super absorbent.
COVID-19 Mangement – Incubation Activities (SCTIMST TIMed)
SCTIMST-TIMed is a Technology Business Incubator for Medical Devices and Biomaterials funded by the DST, Govt. Of India. In the COVID-19 crisis situation, TIMed has been working on fast-track mode to reach out to the innovators or companies and to support them. Brainstorming sessions were held with existing start-ups and Prayasees of TIMed to come up with quick-to-market interventions that could be manufactured even in the lockdown situation.
Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (AMCHSS)
The Achutha Menon Centre at the Institute is actively involved in supporting the Hospital Wing and the State in the containment of COVID-19 through the COVID Cell constituted by the Director at the Institute. Further, it is helping the State Health Department also by preparing a number of new initiatives and proposals.
Comfortable face mask designed by CeNS could encourage public to use it for long hours
A team of researchers at Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the DST, have developed a cup-shaped design (patent filed) of the mask that helps to create enough space in front of the mouth while speaking. It has been transferred to a Bengaluru-based company for mass production. This snug fit mask causes no speech distortion, no fogging on glasses, and indeed packs well all around, leaving practically no room for leakage while breathing. Another important advantage is its high breathability allowing one to wear it without any discomfort. Further, the researchers have chosen the fabric layers such that there is a possibility of deactivating pathogens sheerly by the electric charges that may prevail under mild friction due to the triboelectric nature of the fabric.
SCIENCE & SOCIETY
As the community was highly distressed due to prevailed situation, DST took initiatives and issued advisory to its S&T-based Voluntary Organizations spread across the country for COVID-19 awareness, activities towards the production and supply of affordable, locally made Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) like face masks, hand sanitizers, hand wash, gloves etc. by mobilizing communities and engaging Self Help Groups (SHGs), people institutions, rural youth with possible technical know-how from nearby institutions.
Several S&T-based voluntary organizations working with SEED Division, across the country including those through grant-in aid long-term core support towards addressing livelihood challenges have come forward to contribute towards this national crisis. They started responding on day-to-day basis with their community-based management plan to adopt the basic preventive measure (human-to-human transmission), production and distribution of health and hygiene-related products such as hand sanitizers (alcohol-based), homemade mask (2-3 layer), hand wash, face shields, and liquid disinfectant etc. as per prevailing standards. These basic actions not only ensure livelihoods security but also take care of the healthcare needs of the community in inclusive manner. Besides, these people-centric organizations are also making efforts to address urgent requirements of food, nutrition, livelihood, and animal care, which needs to be assured in time of lockdown, when supply from outside is cut off due to limited transport and communication facilities. In such an endeavour, these S&T-led voluntary organizations delivered immediately the following interventions. FlyBase, an enterprise Incubated at the Bhau Institute’s Incubation Centre, Government College of Engineering, Pune, Technology Business Incubator (TBI), under a DST NIDHI TBI Scheme is offering a digital platform that can monitor ground level situations by using drones. The platform called FlytNow allows drones that are increasingly being used for aerial monitoring, emergency response, or urgent delivery of blood samples, medicines as well as lockdown surveillance. Via FlytNow, police authorities are now carrying out live, remote drone operations to monitor the overall social situation through an operator-friendly dashboard and take measures to monitor crowds and maintain public safety.
Society for Economic & Social Studies (SESS), Delhi currently is engaged in sanitizer manufacturing in compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) standards. SESS will make and supply about 10,000 bottles (100 ml each) of sanitizer by engaging rural artisans in its field station located at Sahaspur, Dehrdaun. SESS has developed a Sanitization Chamber/ Booth to disinfect one person from head to foot using Hydrogen Peroxide spray while entering or exiting hospitals and/or any other health, quarantine facility. Prototype has already been developed/field tested and plans for commercial production as micro enterprise are underway. SESS has also undertaken home-scale or small-group production of simple 2- or 3-ply masks with quality control by engaging SHGs following the protocol recommended by Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA).
These SHGs have prepared 10,000 masks and efforts are underway to develop linkages with State Rural Livelihood Mission, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Uttarakhand State Council for S&T (UCOST) and other State Government agencies to explore possibility of procurement from SHGs promoted by SESS. A target of 10,000-50,000 masks is being proposed depending on the extent to which the above linkages fructify. SESS is already manufacturing 100% natural Liquid Hand-wash (USFDA specifications) with anti-viral properties using local Ritha (Sapindus Mukorossi), a technology developed under Core Support programme of SEED, DST. Natural liquid Hand-wash packed in 500 ml bottle is now being promoted for use at the community level in leading to alternative source of livelihoods for SHGs and health benefits to people at large.
Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan immediately initiated making facemasks for the locals using double layered cotton cloth material and distributed to nearby villages of Tilonia as Rajasthan was at high risk due to large number of COVID-19 cases reported. It plans to prepare 200,000 masks for use by frontline health workers and at community level. The College used technology intervention in their Fab Lab for making 3D-printed masks for mass production. So far, 50 pieces of 3D masks have been designed, and efforts are also being made to make and supply alcohol-based hand sanitizer (150 ml bottle) for community use. In order to take care of the immediate food and health care requirement of a basic kit containing food grains, facemask, hand sanitizer and basic awareness information in their local language, was distributed for 1000 underprivileged families in and around Tilonia.
Sai Institute of Rural Development, Varanasi is working with Zardozi Cluster and has taken initiative by involving women beneficiaries to manufacture and distribute face mask, hand gloves, and to make available sanitizer/hand wash and food packets to community including migrant labours, bus drivers, policeman, and women in rural areas. SIRD has manufactured 2000 three-layer cotton mask (from Khadi cloth) and 2000 standard gloves as per WHO guideline through its trained women beneficiaries.
Society for Technology & Development (STD), Mandi, HP is mobilizing/helping the women SHGs, Kisan clubs and local voluntary organizations in making reusable 3-layer cotton masks through videos as per guidelines. It is also creating awareness among community by disseminating method/Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for sterilization of reusable cotton masks for safe use. Initially 2000 masks have been produced by 7 SHGs from Nagwain, Panchayat, Sadar Block, Mandi HP. STD is also in process to conduct training/production on preparation of liquid hand wash from local materials having anti-microbial properties such as Soap nut extract and Aloe vera in consultation with NBRI, Lucknow/IHBT, Palampur.
Himalayan Research Group (HRG), Shimla is preparing 5000 face masks by the local women groups for distribution to selected Panchayats namely Kamrunag, Kandhi and Jahal of Gohar Block in District Mandi H.P. through active involvement of Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and distributing 1000 sanitizer bottles (100 ml) as well. HRG is mobilizing mountain community and generating awareness across the selected mountain areas about social distancing, use of masks and Ayush formulations to enhance immunity at the household level with rejuvenation of traditional food and nutritional systems. Promotion of local traditional crops like buckwheat, amaranth, red rice, barley, kidney beans, apricot and herbs like Chirayita (Swertia cordata) in mountains will not only ensure food nutrition and health but will also help in many therapeutic as well as livelihood needs of the community.
Vivekananda Institute of Biotechnology (VIB), Nimpith is serving people in ecologically fragile and climatically vulnerable area of Sunderban in West Bengal. They are working in close collaboration with the concerned block level officials in 11 districts. They have taken initiative towards development of face shields as per the guidelines of knowledge institutions and working towards installation of disinfection chamber in its campus. If successful then it will be up scaled at different field locations/service points in South 24 Parganas, Kolkata and Nadia districts. College students are also being involved in healthcare measures such as spreading awareness at local level through print media, demonstrating the use Arogya Setu App.
During the health emergency declared due to COVID-19 by Kerala Government, Community Agro-Biodiversity Centre (CAbC), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) Wayanad, Kerala demonstrated preparation of hand sanitizer (as per the WHO guidelines) to various departments viz., District Administration (District Collectorate), Excise Department and District Medical Authority (DMO) for its bulk production. In addition, MSSRF also supplied ready-to-use hand sanitizer (20 L) prepared in the laboratory by using the available Isopropyl Alcohol to the District Administration and the Assistant District Magistrate (ADM) upon their request. Sanitizer was also supplied to the local Youth Clubs and Grocery shops and the public (15 L). MSSRF has also joined hands with the State level campaigns for spreading awareness on the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing to combat COVID-19 infection via social media.
These organizations stood out because of their commitment towards community and served the immediate need with their knowledge and limited resources available at that point of time. There were several constraints like license and relevant permissions to operate during lockdown but they served as per their capacities. Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute (SPRERI), Anand, Gujarat though constrained due to licenserelated issues has plans to produce hand sanitizer around 3500 bottles of 100 ml capacity for rural healthcare centres and Asha workers in rural and tribal areas of Anand and Chota Udepur District, Gujarat.
A. Face Shields by Vigyan Ashram
Maharashtra had reported highest number of COVID-19 cases in India with more than 3500 confirmed cases. Fab Lab of Vigyan Ashram (VA), Pune acted immediately, prepared more than 2500 face shields with the help of Design students, and supplied to local Kendur and Mahalunge Padwal healthcare centres, ASHA workers, Dairy workers and Latur Police Department. Currently, it is engaged in manufacturing 400 shields per day under lockdown constraint following social distancing norms to cater the local need.
Specification of the Face Shield:
Optically clear anti-fog face shield that protects face and mask from direct spatter, verified by doctors.
Thickness: 178 micron
Height: 21-40 cm
Width: 18-20 cm
Weight: 10-15 gm
Material: Cellulose acetate & foam board
Latex free: Yes
B. Pedal-operated, bamboo-based hand washing device developed by NB Institute of Rural Technology (NBIRT)
NBIRT, Tripura developed a pedal-operated, bamboo-based handwashing device costing around Rs.180 which will also be helpful in reducing the wastage of water during its operation. NBIRT installed this device in front of Banks, Ration shops, medicine shops, markets and in village communities in Tripura. This simple device could easily be fabricated by rural artisans using four bamboo pieces, plastic jar (used/new) of 2-3 litre capacity with a hole on its top and is hanged with a nylon rope between the structures. More than 100 women and unemployed youth have been trained in manufacturing of this device and developed business model.
Handwash device developed by NBIRT, Tripura
In addition to these technology, NBIRT is developing UV-Cbased Disinfector, powered by Solar Energy. UV-C provides rapid, effective deactivation of microorganisms through a physical process. When bacteria, viruses and protozoa are exposed to the germicidal wavelength of UV light (UV-C), they are rendered incapable of reproducing and infecting. UV-C light has demonstrated efficacy against pathogen organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites. Two devices will be developed and field tested by NBIRT shortly as a handheld device and a standalone device for disinfection.
New livelihood opportunities in Rural Areas
Due to disruption of livelihood by the pandemic situation, several women SHGs are finding tailoring as their main source of income and are diverting their activities towards facemask production units within the villages. The new opportunities for livelihoods at village level are:
Production of herbal sanitizers
Liquid hand soaps
PPE for community health workers
Value added products from local resources (Immunity booster); and
Soaps and detergent making units formed under SHGs are actively involved in producing cleaning agents and soaps. By such initiative, many of the villages have become self-sustainable to meet the immediate need of cleaning materials and soaps. India being an agrarian economy we must focus upon our resources at village level and strengthen the ecosystem of farming with central harvesting, grading, sorting and processing units. Village-level food processing centres operational with support from SEED division of DST can be scaled of to cater the need of nearby villages. Accordingly, SESS is procuring and processing 2 ton of Millets benefiting around 20-25 farmers for producing nutritionally value-added products like Cookies, Snacks etc.
HOSPITAL WING of AMCHSS
The faculty of hospital wing and AMCHSS under the leadership of the Director swung into action mode needed for patient and staff protection as soon as the crisis of COVID-19 set in with the diagnosis of the disease in a member of the faculty. The communications between the staff was done mainly via digital conferencing since a sizeable number of the personnel in different departments were sent to home quarantine. The remaining non-quarantined staffs were in duty duly following the guidelines regularly updated by the government and the COVID cell headed by the Director.
Measures and Safety Precautions in the OPD
Queuing at entrance area is discouraged and token numbers are issued to patients by security personnel. They are advised to be seated at the waiting areas maintaining social distancing until their turn comes.
Entry of the patients is regularized and a staggered system is followed.
Facilities for hand washing with soap and hand sanitizers are provided at the entrance to the OPD.
Patients and bystanders are advised to wash their hands and wear facemask properly before entering the hospital. Masks are provided if required.
All staffs at OPD area are required to wear preventive equipments like mask, gloves and also to use hand sanitizers or wash with soap frequently. In addition, facial visors are used by doctors and nurses during patient interactions.
Security personnel conduct temperature screening, with thermal scanner, at the entrance. All patients, bystanders, visitors to various departments and staff members are screened.
Next level of screening is done using a proforma for COVID-19 screening by the Medical Social worker in the Patient Management Services.
If any of the checklist questions is positive, the patient is directed to triage area and will be communicated to concerned OPD. The concerned doctor will examine the patient at triage area with all preventive precautions like PPE. Hotspot notifications in the intranet were reviewed on a daily basis and the patients from these areas were also triaged.
Structural modification has been done at Information Centres and OPD Nursing station by fixing glass partitions.
Chairs are rearranged near OPD and outside waiting areas to ensure social distancing.
Measures and safety precautions in the Inpatient Department
Separate areas have been demarcated in all inpatient areas for COVID-suspected patients in all admitting departments. Furthermore, special COVID Isolation facilities have been created in one block of the hospital to take care of critically ill COVID-19 patients:
The existing Neuro-medical Ward has been converted to COVID-19 Isolation ward by providing additional medical gas outlets including oxygen, air and vacuum ports. Electrical work has been done for accommodating additional patient monitors, ventilators, etc. The entire area has been air-conditioned and exhaust outlet has been provided for increasing the air changes to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread through aerosols by the Division of Clinical Engineering.
The Neuro Medical ICU has been converted into a negative pressure isolation ICU by redesigning and installing suitable exhaust blowers with filters.
Separate entrance/exit and areas were made for donning and doffing of PPE for managing sick COVID-19 patients.
Congenital Heart ICU has been converted into a negative pressure isolation room by redesigning and installing suitable exhaust blowers with filters.
Additional options were installed in selected Adult Cardiac surgical and Neuro surgical OTs for switching between positive and negative pressure to meet the infection control requirements to reduce the impact of aerosol-generating procedures-induced COVID transmission.
Most of the critical equipments were serviced and repaired to meet the COVD-19 emergencies. Extra preventive maintenance was done for making the equipment ready to meet the emergencies, since most of the equipment were idle during the lockdown period.
Critical Air Handling Units rooms and CT room were installed with UVC germicidal UV tubes for reducing the aerosol infections.
Disinfectant, face mask, N 95 masks, COVID guard face shield, gloves, and PPE kits were made available for all staff according to guidelines.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) were placed in SCTIMST intranet after approval by COVID cell for everybody’s information.
New protocols for periodic checking of critical care equipment during lockdown period were developed by the Division of Clinical Engineering.
Procurement of essential spares and consumables were done in order to manage the epidemic/pandemic outbreaks and lockdown conditions.
Furthermore, we formulated focussed guidelines and protocols for the safety of our staff and patients undergoing diagnostic procedures such as echo, ultrasound, CT, X-ray, DSA, MRI, ECG, EEG, EMG etc. For example, Echo was modified in two ways:
Plastic sheet screens were kept between patient and operator with transparent plastic covers. Holes in the proper places ensured access to patient with probe.
Sono Box: Developed by the Department of Clinical Engineering of the Hospital Block it is an enclosure inside air-conditioned echo rooms to prevent aerosols. It has UV sterilisation which is done after attending each patient. It is equipped with HEPA filter with negative suction which will prevent aerosol spread.
Successes, Best practices
All the departments started working during lockdown to manage the emergencies initially and then the elective work also started.
Tele-consultation services and counselling over phone was offered during this period to reduce the stress and strain of the patients and to prevent travel.
In quick time, two ICMR-approved COVID-19 test laboratories have been set up to test people or patients suspected to have contracted the infection.This facility was mainly used by the state government.
The departments has succeeded in keeping down the stress and anxiety levels of all staff, students and patients to a minimum during the COVID-19 period by counselling and regular training classes.
Nursing department has been actively involved with the establishment of the COVID-19 testing lab at the institute. Further, it gave training to all the staff in donning and doffing of PPE, management of COVID-19 patients on ventilators and cleaning and waste management.
Relatives of the patients were made aware on hand washing and use of face masks by the nursing department.
Four-hourly cleaning of all units and 2-hourly surface cleaning for frequently touched areas such as OPDs were ensured.
Regular rounds by infection control team and nursing officers were conducted.
Accommodation was arranged for staff in nursing hostels and a nearby hotel during the lockdown period.
The morale among staff and students remained high.
Online teaching was ensured to the Resident who was on quarantine due to the stipulated regulation.
A patient from adjacent medical college COVID-19 ward was transported by the red protocol recommended by the ICT of medical college Trivandrum and SCTIMST and the necessary interventional procedure was performed on 19th May 2020 which highlights the coordination with other departments in other institutions.
S&T-led Voluntary Organizations
Government of India is taking all necessary steps to ensure that the community is prepared well to face the challenges and threat posed by the growing pandemic of COVID-19. Field agencies and volunteers are supporting government actively towards containment of this disease. The most important factor in preventing the spread of the virus locally is to empower the citizens with reliable trustworthy information and taking precautions as per the advisories issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare time to time. S&T-led Voluntary Organizations played their role efficiently towards this goal using conventional and innovative methods of awareness creation using various platforms such WhatsApp, emails and Community Radio. Some noteworthy activities of these Groups in last 15 days in this direction are as follows:
Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), Gorakhpur, UP started working immediately before the lockdown, when news of COVID-19 started pouring in with a specific strategy News Coverage: Jansandesh TimesBadhohi edition, dated 10.04.2020 16 to tackle it in rural areas at the community level in Gorakhpur, Mahoba, Bhadohi districts in Uttar Pradesh and Supaul and West Champaran in Bihar. The organization responded with three-level strategy:
a) Awareness Generation at Community Level: In regular project meetings and activities, community members were briefed on preventive measures about COVID-19 as per the prescribed guidelines of Central and UP Governments.
b) SMS-based Advisories: GEAG works with large network of small and marginal farmers linked with GEAG’s weather-agro advisories, received on their mobile phones. GEAG made opportunistic use of this facility and developed an SMS-based advisory on preventive measures for current harvesting season keeping in mind the COVID-19 outbreak. The advisory included the information related to personal hygiene, handwashing, use of masks and social distancing norms to be followed during harvesting of crops.The advisory is being sent regularly at an interval of 5 days to about 1887 farmers.
c) Community Volunteers as ‘Corona Warriors’ Frontline workers such as ASHA, Anganwadi Workers, Village Pradhan, Teachers and Volunteers have an important role to play in sensitizing the communities and guiding them. These frontline workers were sensitized about the severity of COVID-19 pandemic and they were encouraged to disseminate the necessary information to the communities to protect against the spread of Coronavirus.
d) Helping underprivileged farmers and families: GEAG also supported needy and poor farmers through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Krishi Seva Kendra at the village level. Following support is being provided to the farmers and vulnerable groups:
i) Technical support is provided to the farmers on phone regarding cultivating vegetables with appropriate precautionary measures.
ii) Information related to availability of small equipment and organic inputs like neem cake, bone meal, Trichoderma etc. and vegetable seeds at Agro Service Centres free of cost to the needy farmers were made available.
iii) Community level Grain Banks were used to provide wheat and rice to agriculture labourer families stranded due to lockdown.
iv) Cooked food was provided to some poor families in the villages.
v) The 3 SHG groups of Gorakhpur and members of Village Disaster Management Committee of Laxmipur Rampurwa of Bagha block West Champaran constituted under the project (Supported by Lutheran World Relief) have come forward to support their fellow community members and frontline workers by developing clean cloth masks and distributing them in the village. GEAG distributed 220 masks in Gorakhpur and West Champaran districts to the vulnerable households especially in Harijan Tola.
In Central India, Madhya Pradesh reported third highest cases of COVID-19 with Indore district emerging as the hotspot. Daily earner groups like hawkers, labourers, rag pickers, vegetable sellers, beggars, workers working in unorganized sectors etc. are highly vulnerable groups facing severe challenges such as lack of food, medicines, medical facility (inaccessible due to lockdown). DST-supported group Madhya Pradesh Vigyan Sabha (MPVS) ensured the availability of foods/Ration kit, medicines, and medical facility and also created awareness among such highly vulnerable groups. It reached out to network partners like Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), Peoples Science Movement (PSM), Democratic Women Organisation (JMS) and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA). MP Chapter in 11 Districts of MP (Bhopal, Indore, Chhindwada, Hoshangabad, Katni, Sheopur, Morena, Sehore, Bhind, Jhabua and Badwani) created a group of 60 volunteers.These volunteers are working on awareness generation activities related to COVID-19 in communities through WhatsApp, emails. They also addressed challenges pertaining to wellbeing of elderly through psychological counselling, lack of food and medicines, rescue of migrant people in 25 districts of Madhya Pradesh and intensively in Bhopal. MPVS is working towards the nutritional food requirement of distressed people through 11 Community Kitchens.
Peermade Development Society (PDS), Idukki, Kerala participated in “Break the Chain” initiative by Government of Kerala, through circulation of posters and brochures about WHO-recommended hand washing protocol to self-help groups and families using social media and digital platforms. PDS also organized telephonic emergency management guidance programme to 60 village-level animators coordinating such healthcare initiatives in each village. A video-based training support was provided to village animators and SHG members regarding the making of facemasks in rural households. The focus is to promote participation of rural people in the awareness and training programmes organised by Government of Kerala in various sectors. A training video was created for village animators and SHG members about making facemasks in rural households. It also counselled people in distress through its family counselling centre located in Kattappana, through telephonic and online counselling support system by a team of two experienced and professionally qualified counsellors.
FEEDS, Manipur prepared a short informative video in Manipuri, Hindi, Nepali and Naga dialect highlighting COVID-19 disease, its symptoms, importance of mask usage, sanitization, social distancing, and importance of installing Aarogya Setu. The video also provides important toll free numbers in Manipur for assistance. The video was circulated across seven districts covering 200 villagesincluding chiefs of the villages(more than 2500 people) throughWhatsApp. Community Radio Station (91.2 MHz) at FEEDS campus is also playing crucial role in creating awareness by broadcasting relevant information thrice daily. It also created a three-minute video in Manipuri, Nepali, Hindi and Naga dialect on making of face masks at household level using used washed household material such as T-shirt.
Volunteers from Society for Energy, Environment & Development (SEED), Hyderabad interacted with people in the community through WhatsApp or other social media during the lockdown. The organization has distributed self-explanatory pamphlets on precautions as issued by Govt. of India/State Govt. or WHO for wide circulation to volunteers and is devising various strategies to train (Train-the-Trainer) the SEED volunteers in the ‘Know How’ and ‘Do How’ of basic practices of hygiene-based and social distance-based preventive measures.
Village-level volunteers, especially SHG members, are being trained through WhatsApp videomessaging, leaflets etc. as well regarding collaboration with governmental/PRI village-level workers such as ANMs, Asha workers, Anganwadi workers, Gram Sevaks, Gram Pradhans etc. on social distancing, hygiene practices, symptoms and spread of disease by SESS, Delhi near Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
India is surely fighting against Corona with NGOs playing extremely important role in reaching out to people living in villages in different states. These NGOs are also working in tandem with State Government in State level campaigns to combat COVID-19 via social media, awareness through pamphlets, multimedia e-content containing information of precaution and healthy food, home exercise to the general population for the COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms and track them for the same. These organizations also ensured awareness regarding safety management, nutrition care, and immune booster food to fight against infections. Such community-based awareness programmes are relevant to ensure better healthcare and social security during lockdown and post-lockdown period.
SCIENCE OUTREACH & POPULARISATION
Initiatives of NRDMS Division: Geospatial-based solutions to address the challenges in COVID-19 crisis
In a response to combat COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges, National Geospatial Programme Division (erstwhile NRDMS) of the DST, Government of India (GoI), has made efforts to integrate available geospatial datasets, standards-based services, products, applications; and analytic tools from its attached offices and programme divisions. The attached offices, such as, Survey of India (SoI), National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO), and the DST’s programme division, National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), have pulled together their resources to provide the integrated geospatial platform for not only addressing the present geospatial needs of the decision-makers but also devising area-specific strategies for socio-economic development in the post-COVID-19 mitigation scenarios. Survey of India (SOI) portal www.indiamaps.gov.in/soiapp/ is available as the core of the integrated geospatial platform to address COVID-19 outbreak and its socioeconomic impact. For required data collection pertinent to COVID-19 emergency management, the Sahyog mobile App of SOI has been customized. The App contains interface in local language viz. Hindi to capture data on the problems of reversed migrants. The collected data is hosted on the above platform and for that an POI (point of interest) has been also created.
Under NSDI, many State Spatial Data Infrastructure (SSDI) teams have utilized the Sahyog mobile App of SoI for collecting data for COVID-19. In Karnataka, 100 sample points for testing/training on Sahyog app from all 30 districts have been uploaded to the SoI Geoportal. Similarly, the GIS cells in all 13 districts of Uttarakhand are sensitized for using Sahyog app. In Uttarakhand, geotagging of dedicated COVID-19 Centres/isolated COVID Centres, and institutional quarantine centres with their attributes has been done. Data of the reversed migrants such as travel history of reversed migrants, place of migration, cause of migration, education level, technical skill, marital status, income at migrated place, income at home, what they want to do now, expectation from government etc. have also been collected in the State. The functioning of NGOs of Science for Equity, Empowerment & Development (SEED) division of DST has been strengthened with basic geospatial tools and techniques so the outputs could be scaled up as per the current needs of the stakeholders in the COVID-19 scenario. NATMO is in the process of launching a web-based thematic map service by combining its authoritative and reliable Atlas-based boundary data sets from its geoportal (http://geoportal. natmo.gov.in) with the health-related data sets from the Central and State level health authorities. The thematic maps provided at different levels of the governmental hierarchy (National, State, and District levels) will help provide the details of the unfolding geospatial patterns of COVID-19 occurrence. In order to strengthen the geospatial analytics capabilities of the integrated platform, a Call for proposals (short-term) to address the COVID-19 crisis has been initiated in collaboration with AGNIi (Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations) initiative of office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. Spatial analytics will be used to address issues pertinent to migratory workers viz. employment generation, strengthening of livelihood, community resilience etc. These key geospatial inputs with integrated geospatial information content are expected to be useful for the decision makers and local authorities in preparing operational strategies in the present and future outbreak scenarios.
Study initiated for low cost COVID-19 detection kit suitable for storage in less stringent conditions in rural areas
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up the novel challenge of setting up rapid diagnostic facilities in remote areas which do not have adequate infrastructure. This calls for low cost devices that do not require very stringent storage facilities. Scientists have put in a research plan to meet this urgent requirement. With support from the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under the DST, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, has initiated a research with the detection of a target protein using bioinformatics tool against which the diagnostic kit has to be developed. This study has taken the special domain of spike protein in consideration for the development of the diagnostic kit.
SCTIMST & IIT Madras start-up set up portable hospital infrastructure for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to set up systems to improve health infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Portable hospitals for detecting, screening, identifying, isolating, and treating COVID-19 patients in local communities could soon be a solution to tackle the increasing demands for health infrastructure. 3 Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under the DST, Govt. of India in collaboration with ‘Modulus Housing’, a start-up incubated by IIT Madras, has come up with a solution using decentralised approach to detect, manage and treat COVID-19 patients in local communities through portable microstructures.
Millennium Alliance Round 6 & COVID-19 Innovation Challenge-Awards for 49 innovations in 5 focus areas
The Millennium Alliance Round 6 & COVID-19 Innovation Challenge-Award Ceremony, which recognized 49 innovative solutions in 5 focus sectors of India, highlighted the necessity of building a highly distributed innovation ecosystem. Announcing that DST will be soon launching a new program to have highly distributed innovation ecosystem, DST Secretary, Professor Ashutosh Sharma said that to have a start-up doing innovation it is important to have networking, support, seed money, and prototyping facility, and all of these facilities could be provided outside the physical space of incubators.
Awards announced for Indo-US Virtual Networks for COVID-19
Eight bi-national teams consisting of researchers from India and the US have received awards to pursue cutting-edge research in pathogenesis and disease management of COVID-19 through Indo-US virtual networks. The areas of research they will pursue include antiviral coatings, immune modulation, tracking SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, disease detection mechanisms, reverse genetics strategies, and drug repurposing. The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) announced the awards to eight binational teams, consisting of leading researchers from India and US for COVID-19 IndoUS Virtual Networks in support of the efforts of the medical and scientific community to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging global challenges. The IUSSTF is an autonomous bilateral organization jointly funded by the Governments of India and the US that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia, and industry. The Department of Science & Technology, Governments of India and the US Department of States are respective nodal departments.
DST Secretary highlights digital transformation opportunities that emerged from COVID-19 disruptions
Secretary, DST, Professor Ashutosh Sharma, emphasised that the future is all about convergence of digital technologies and that COVID-19 virus has provided the country opportunity to be part of the change rather than resisting it, at webinar on Digital Transformation in COVID-19. “Use of digital technologies and machines can take the country to new heights and fulfil the dream of our Prime Minister of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’,” Professor Sharma pointed out. He added that data is the new water, and we must value data to use it for our progress at the webinar organised by the Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE). Professor Sharma explained that future has been coming to us at a fast pace even before the COVID-19, but the virus has changed everything. It has disrupted every sector and every life beyond imagination. Its impact is on all aspects-- whether it is availability of labour, supply chains, or logistics. However, the more disruptive the challenge, the bigger will be the achievement, and this is a very good time to think where we are and where we want to be.
DST reaches out to women scientists facing challenges during COVID-19
The pandemic and associated lockdown has affected people in different ways. Due to closure of institutions, woman scientists, especially those working on projects to address societal challenges through S&T solutions, have been facing several challenges in carrying out fieldwork, data collection, surveys required in their projects, and other administrative issues such as timely documentation, the release of fellowships and so on. Keeping their needs in mind, KIRAN (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing), a division of the DST held an online interaction meeting with these women scientists to help them overcome the challenges.
JNCASR scientists devise adaptive model to estimate & strategize critical resources in pandemic
Healthcare in a country faces a catch-22 situation in the early stages of an epidemic – specific and accurate tests are required to trace and isolate the infected, and to scale up the novel tests, one needs to have estimates of the expected number of infections weeks to months in advance. And then, these numbers need to be used to predict healthcare inventory requirements in every district of the nation. How does one use models for these estimates when the inputs to the models could be rampant with uncertain parameters? Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute under the DST, Government of India, and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a model to address this problem using an adaptive strategy and the early phase of COVID-19 as an example. The model can be utilized to estimate key aspects of medical inventory requirements, a calculation that is required to scale up both the testing capabilities and the critical care facilities, which are essential to reduce the mortality. It would be extremely relevant for COVID-19 as the disease character and the behavioural patterns of the people change and affect the efficacies of disease spread and management in a second-wave, requiring constant alertness on the part of the forecasters.
Bengaluru-based start-up brings mobile app for detection & risk assessment of COVID-19-infected individuals
Novel methods to supplement the early detection of disease and risk assessment of infected population to prioritise the conventional testing queue through mass screening is a crucial challenge the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up. Combating the crisis needs technological solutions that can carry this out rapidly while minimizing risk for healthcare professionals. The Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by the DST, has selected Bengaluru-based start-up Acculi Labs to develop a COVID-19 risk assessment profile called Lyfas COVID score. Acculi Labs is armed with ‘Lyfas’, a clinical-grade, non-invasive, digital functional biomarker smartphone tool for screening, early detection, root cause analysis, acute event risk assessment, prognosis, and home monitoring of chronic diseases which they have repurposed to Lyfas COVID score. CAWACH, an initiative by the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST, Government of India, is supporting market-ready innovations for the control of COVID-19 and start-up ideas to address associated challenges. The new technology developed with support from the DST will detect the possible infection in an asymptomatic individual to prioritise the conventional testing queue as well as carry out a risk assessment of an asymptomatic individual to become symptomatic and risk assessment of an asymptomatic individual for recovery.
ARCI & Vehant Technologies co-develop UV System for baggage scan disinfection to fight COVID-19
Both domestic and international travel has been a major reason for spread of the COVID-19 infection. Baggage, an inevitable part of travel, involves handling by multiple people and can be contact points for spread of the virus and should be disinfected quickly each time they change hands. With increase in the passenger traffic at airports, railway stations and commercial establishments during the post-lockdown period, there is an immediate necessity for a rapid system for the baggage disinfection within few seconds to effectively fight against COVID-19. In order to control spread of infection through baggage, International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad, an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India and Vehant Technologies, Noida have co-developed KritiScan® UV Baggage Disinfection System. This advanced baggage disinfecting system has a specially designed motorized conveyor to guide the baggage into the disinfection tunnel, which uses UVC light (254 nm) with appropriate irradiance to inactivate microbes and viruses. The UV-C lamps used in the system are well shielded and hence pose no harm to staff or passengers in the vicinity of the system. However, any human intervention is strongly advised against when the UVC sources are on.
Dr Harsh Vardhan releases White Paper on Focused Interventions for Make in India: Post COVID-19 by TIFAC
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences today released a white paper on “Focused Interventions for ‘Make in India’: Post COVID-19” and “Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients: Status, Issues, Technology Readiness and Challenges”, prepared by Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), at Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi. Dr V K Saraswat, Chairman TIFAC Governing Council, and Prof. Pradeep Srivastava, Executive Director, TIFAC, Dr Sanjay Singh, Scientist ‘G’ and Shri Mukesh Mathur, In-charge (F&A), TIFAC were also present on the occasion. Pointing out that “India has been largely successful in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 so far”, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We got the opportunity to position ourselves as a global manufacturing hub with a big push under ‘Make In India’ with adoption of appropriate technology and policy reforms and focused thrust in crucial sectors.” He emphasized that, “This calls for furthering investment in developing infrastructure, industrialization, strengthening supply chain mechanism, creating demand for goods and services, converting farming into a business proposition etc.” The Minister said, “The current pandemic is global, but the solutions to the challenge should be local.” Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, in his message, said, “The White Paper by TIFAC presents a compelling map of high priority sectors, technologies, and strategies to fuel growth in the time of COVID-19 and immediately beyond. The sector-wise reports being worked on currently will also be an invaluable resource in defining the opportunities even more sharply.” This White Paper captures sector-specific strengths, market trends, and opportunities in five sectors, critical from the country’s perspective. This includes Healthcare, Machinery, ICT, Agriculture, Machinery & Manufacturing and Electronics with reference to supply and demand, self-sufficiency, and mass-scale production capacity. It has identified policy options primarily in the areas of Public Health System, MSME sector, Global Relations: FDI, recalibrated trade alignments, new-age technologies, etc. This is precisely important for the development of technology clusters in champion segments, creating Technology Start-up Exchange, identifying, supporting, and piloting ten blockbuster technologies and collaborating with new dynamics with incubators of Israel and Germany, towards promoting import substitution as well as evolving technology platforms in sunrise technologies. The recommendations are directed towards giving immediate technology and policy impetus to make India “ATMANIRBHAR”. Based on the linkages and interdependencies between the outputs of different sectors, output multiplier and income multiplier for various sectors have been presented in the paper.
TIFAC releases report on ‘Active Pharmaceutical IngredientsStatus, Issues, Technology Readiness and Challenges’
Indigenous production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) needs to be scaled up to a level where the production is economically viable, says a report which identified a list of APIs that need prioritized manufacturing and the associated advantages. The report titled ‘Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients- Status, Issues, Technology Readiness, and Challenges’ was brought out recently by Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous organization under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. It was released along with a white paper on ‘Focused Interventions for ‘Make in India’: Post COVID-19’ by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences at a virtual function on 10th July 2020. Dr V K Saraswat, Member S & T NITI Aayog & Chairman, TIFAC Governing Council, and Prof. Pradeep Srivastava, Executive Director, TIFAC, Shri Sanjay Singh, Scientist ‘G’ and Shri Mukesh Mathur, In-charge (F&A), TIFAC were also present on the occasion. The major recommendations presented in the report include focus on engineering and scale aspect of technology development, need for Mission mode Chemical Engineering with defined targets for uninterrupted synthesis of molecules and to create mega drug manufacturing clusters with common infrastructure in India and the technology platform to be developed for biocatalysis towards reducing process steps for cost optimization and for fluorination, Investment on priority in fermentation sector of large capacity and scale supporting technoeconomic feasibility, attention to technologies like hazardous reactions, flow chemistry, cryogenic reactions, and membrane technology. The report further suggests chiral building blocks through biocatalysis for production of niche intermediates involving enzymatic reactions or fermentation as an area of potential exploitation for Indian API industry and focus on antiviral drugs, which require nucleic acid building blocks - Thymine-Cytosine-Adenine-Guanine none of which are manufactured in India because of lack of cyanation plants. The report recommends for Government encouragement of Indian companies working in chemical segments such as steroids, amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleosides, etc., to collaborate for technology development or quick technology transfer as well as the need for closer academia-industry interaction for technology development and commercialization. COVID-19 pandemic has firmly put the focus of our nation on being “Atma Nirbhar”. The TIFAC White Paper titled ‘Focused Interventions for ‘Make In India’ Post COVID-19’ brought out the strengths, market trends, and opportunities in five Sectors, including Healthcare, which are critical from country’s perspective. This Paper strongly brought out the import dependence for APIs, especially from China. In view of changing geo-political scenario and recalibrated trade alignments, it is imperative that India becomes self-reliant in production of APIs. The pharmaceutical industry in India is third largest in the world, in terms of volume, after China and Italy, and fourteenth largest in terms of value. It has a strong network of 3,000 drug companies and about 10,500 manufacturing units with a domestic turnover of Rs. 1.4 lakh crore (USD 20.03 billion) in 2019, with exports to more than 200 countries in the world. Despite a very strong base, due to low-profit margins and non-lucrative industry, domestic pharmaceutical companies have gradually stopped manufacturing APIs and started importing APIs, which was a cheaper option with increased profit margins on drugs. With the availability of cheaper APIs from China, the pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on imports. The imports from China have been increasing steadily and now stand around 68%.To address this,TIFAC has recommended policies to address the requirement of APIs in short and medium term to make our country self-reliant.
JNCASR spinoff launched molecular probes used in COVID-19 test kits
VNIR Biotechnologies Private Limited, a spinoff by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute of the DST, Government of India launched indigenous fluorescence probes and Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mix for Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detection which are molecular probes used in COVID-19 test kits. VNIR Biotechnologies Private Limited is incubated at Bangalore Bio-innovation Centre (BBC) of Government of Karnataka. “This initiative of developing products locally is in line with our Prime Minister’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ mission. We must take pride of the fact that we have reached this level of innovating and producing locally,” said Dr. C. N. Ashwath Narayan, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, who attended the product launch on July 7, 2020, at the Centre. The programme was also attended by Additional Chief Secretary IT/BT, Dr E. V. Ramana Reddy and Managing Director of Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre, Dr Jitendra Kumar.
Accelerate Vigyan, an inter-ministerial scheme, to strengthen scientific research mechanism
1st July 2020, New Delhi To provide a single platform for research internships, capacity building programmes, and workshops across the country, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has launched a new scheme called ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ (AV). You can get more information on this scheme from its web portal www. acceleratevigyan.gov.in. Straight off the block, AV has already called for applications under its ‘ABHYAAS’ component for the Winter Season. The primary objective of this inter-ministerial scheme is to give more thrust on encouraging high-end scientific research and preparing scientific manpower, which can lead to research careers and knowledge-based economy. Recognizing that all research has its base as development of quality and well-trained researchers, AV will initiate and strengthen mechanisms of identifying research potential, mentoring, training and hands-on workshop on a national scale. “The vision is to expand the research base, with three broad goals, namely, consolidation / aggregation of all scientific programs, initiating high-end orientation workshops, and creating opportunities for research internships for those who do not have access to such resources / facilities,” said Dr Rajeev Mehajan, Advisor, SERB. The institution is also planning to launch an app for this in the coming two months. As for the ‘ABHYAAS’ programme, it is an attempt to boost research and development in the country by enabling and grooming potential PG/PhD students by means of developing their research skills in selected areas across different disciplines or fields. It has two components: High-End Workshops (‘KARYASHALA’) and Research Internships (‘VRITIKA’). This is especially important for those researchers who have limited opportunities to access such learning capacities / facilities / infrastructure. The current call for applications invites researchers for the winter season (Dec 2020-Jan 2021) ‘KARYASHALA’ and ‘VRITIKA’ 17.
“As part of this acceleration drive, there is a plan to organize about 1000 high-end workshops (dedicated to certain themes) to provide opportunities to about 25,000 postgraduate and doctoral students in the next five years, in collaboration with premier scientific institutions and laboratories,” said Dr Mehajan. Also, central coordination of internships in these institutions will provide opportunity to another 1000 potential postgraduate students every year. The AV will work on mission mode, particularly with respect to its component dealing with consolidation / aggregation of all major scientific events in the country. Thus, an Inter-Ministerial Overseeing Committee (IMOC) involving all the scientific ministries/departments and a few others has been constituted for the purpose of supporting SERB in implementing the AV scheme in a successful manner. The database of skilled manpower developed across different disciplines so generated and the final outcomes captured in the process through all the sub-components of the AV will serve the cause of all stakeholders in respect of capacity building in the country. The scheme also seeks to garner the social responsibility of the scientific community in the country. In a nutshell, the AV platform is expected to be a game changer for developing career paths and providing support to catalogue the development of skilled man-power. Another new component under AV is ‘SAMMOHAN’ that has been sub-divided into ‘SAYONJIKA’ and ‘SANGOSHTI’. SAYONJIKA is an open-ended program to catalogue the capacity building activities in science and technology supported by all government funding agencies in the country. SANGOSHTI is a pre-existing program of SERB.
BSIP joins hands with Govt of UP to combat COVID-19 in the state
The Government of India, along with the State Governments, has been relentlessly working for prevention, containment, and management of COVID-19. Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP), an autonomous institute under the DST, joined hands with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to combat COVID-19 in the state. BSIP, as one of the five Central Government Research Institutes in Lucknow, took initial steps to start laboratory testing of COVID-19. The availability of the ancient DNA BSL-2A laboratory in the Institute itself made it possible to prepare for testing immediately. BSIP received the first batch of suspected COVID-19 samples to test on 2nd May 2020 from district Chandauli. Since then, the lab is running 24 ´ 7 to test approximately 400 samples per day from various districts of Uttar Pradesh, as decided by the nodal authorities.
NATMO publishes 4th updated version of its COVID-19 Dashboard
National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO) functioning as a subordinate department under the DST, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India published the 4th updated version of COVID-19 Dashboard on its official portal at http://geoportal. natmo.gov.in/Covid19/ on 19th June 2020.
ChitraGeneLAMP-N makes confirmatory tests results of COVID 19 possible in 2 hours
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, an institute of national importance, of the DST, has developed a diagnostic test kit that can confirm COVID-19 in 2 hours at low cost. The test kit, funded by the DST called ChitraGeneLAMP-N, is highly specific for SARS-CoV-2 N-gene and can detect two regions of the gene, which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread.
SCTIMST launched AgappeChitra Magna for detection of COVID-19
The commercial launch of AgappeChitra Magna, a magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction kit for use during detection of COVID-19 was announced by Dr VK Saraswat, NITI Aayog member and President of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) at a programme attended by Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, Government of India; Dr Asha Kishore, Director SCTIMST; and Dr HK Varma, Head Biomedical Technology and scientists of the Institute, through video conference. The RNA extraction kit was developed by SCTIMST, Thiruvananthapuram, an Institute of national importance of the DST along with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd, an in-vitro diagnostics manufacturing company based in Cochin. “The commercial launch of the kit is a major step to make India self-reliant in detecting COVID-19 and can help increase the rate of testing and bring down its costs, a crucial step for combating the pandemic. It can also be an example of rapid commercialization and implementation of a state-of-the-art technology for the world to emulate,” said Dr Saraswat while announcing the launch.
SCTIMST scientists developed disinfection gateway & facemask disposal bin to fight COVID-19
Scientists at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, an autonomous institute under the DST, Government of India, have designed two technologies to fight COVID-19 pandemic. Chitra Disinfection Gateway is one of the two technologies designed by SCTIMST scientists Jithin Krishan and Subash VV 20 from the Division of Medical Instrumentation for the decontamination of people, one at a time. It is a portable system equipped with a system for generating Hydrogen peroxide mist and UV-based decontamination facility. The second technology, Chitra UV-based Facemask Disposal Bin designed by Subash VV from SCTIMST, is a UV-based facemask disposal bin that can be used by health workers in hospitals and in public places where decontamination of used facemask, overhead covers, face shields, and so on are required to break the infection chain.
DST-supported healthcare start-up developing rapid test for detection of COVID-19
The DST has funded Module Innovations, a Pune-based healthcare start-up working on the point-of-care diagnostics to develop its platform technology for rapid diagnosis of diseases to develop a test kit for detecting COVID-19 within 10 to 15 minutes. 22 Using the proven concept from its flagship product ‘USense’, the start-up is now developing nCoVSENSEsTM which is a rapid test device for detection of antibodies that have been generated against the COVID-19 in the human body.
COVID Diagnostic Training Centre at JNCASR kicks off crash course in molecular diagnosis of infectious diseases focusing on COVID-19
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous research institute under the DST, Government of India, has established a state-of-the-art COVID Diagnostic Training Centre at its Jakkur campus to help build capacity for the national fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Molecular diagnostic techniques, such as the real-time PCR, play a crucial role in the diagnosis and tracking of epidemics, including COVID-19. Unfortunately, India lacks personnel skilled in and adept at performing a real-time PCR in clinical diagnostics. Appreciating the crucial and unmet needs of the nation, JNCASR has embarked upon a campaign by establishing a stateof-the-art diagnostic training facility to train personnel in a real-time PCR for COVID-19. The primary objective of the programme is to train multiple batches of trainees, 6-10 trainees per batch, in real-time PCR.
RRI comes up with simulation toolkit to ensure safety in secure quantum communication platforms
The recent advisories by the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure online communication via secure platforms have highlighted the increasing need for measures to ensure security in the virtual world as COVID-19 confines most day-to-day activities to the digital space. 4 The secure part of any information transfer protocol is in the distribution of the key used to encrypt and decrypt the messages. Such standard key distribution schemes, usually based on mathematical resolution of problems, are vulnerable to algorithmic breakthroughs and possibility to run new codes on the up and coming quantum computers. The solution to ensuring the security of the key transfer process lies in using the laws of quantum physics, wherein any eavesdropping activity will leave tell-tale signs and hence will be easily detected. This is achieved by using Quantum Key Distribution or QKD. To tackle this challenge, researchers from Raman Research Institute (RRI), an autonomous institute of the DST, Government of India have come up with a unique simulation toolkit for end-to-end QKD simulation named as ‘qkdSim’, which is based on modular principles that allow it to be grown to different classes of protocols using various underpinning technologies. The research led by Prof. Urbasi Sinha and her team, in collaboration with Prof. Barry Sanders from the University of Calgary, Canada is a part of the Quantum Experiments using Satellite Technology (QuEST) project, India’s first satellite-based secure quantum communication effort, supported by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This work is going to appear in the journal Physical Review Applied (in press).
NIF supports tea dehydration machine & agar wood oil extraction machine of serial innovator from tea gardens of Assam
Durlobh Gogoi is a small tea garden owner from Assam who was recognized by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) for developing Reciprocating Tea Dryer and other machineries. He has utilized the COVID-19 lockdown period to work vigorously on new ideas – a tea dehydration machine and an agar wood oil extraction machine, to reap the benefits of agar wood expanse in his hometown. Over the last few years, ever since the innovation has become part of NIF’s database, it has incubated and supported value addition and product development activities. NIF, an autonomous institute of the DST, recognized Gogoi’s efforts at the National Grassroots Innovation Award Function in the year 2019. Presenting qkdSim: a QKD experimentalist’s best friend. Two QKD experimentalists figuring out the most cost-effective and efficient design for their experiments. They run qkdSim, include all the perceived device and precess imperfections and optimize their design for the best possible key rates and lowest possible error rates. 5 The tea industry in Assam is nearly 200 years old. However, the trend of small-holding tea plantation started in Assam much later – in the 90s – and came with its own set of prospects and constraints. It had prospects for profitability but faced constraints in terms of machinery to process the produce, as all leading manufacturers of that time were large enterprises.
SERB-supported study shows that collapse of respiratory centre in the brain may cause breakdown of COVID-19 patients
The team of researchers at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata has explored the neuro-invasive potential of SARS-CoV-2 and suggested that the virus may infect respiratory centre of the brain and attention should be focused on the respiratory centre of the central nervous system to search for mortality due to COVID-19. The paper published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience and supported by Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory Body of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), implies that SARS-CoV-2 virus might enter the human brain through the nose and reaches the olfactory bulb of the brain. From there, SARS-CoV-2 virus might infect PreBötzinger complex (PBC), the primary centre of the brain that controls the respiratory rhythm generation. This explains that collapse of the respiratory centre in the brain may be responsible for breakdown of COVID-19 patients.
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Research proposals invited for COVID-19 for bilateral collaboration in science between India & Australia
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia jointly announced a Special COVID-19 Collaboration in 2020 during an India-Australia Leaders’ Virtual Summit on 04 June 2020. Accordingly, DST, Ministry of Science & Technology, GOI and Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), Australia have invited joint research projects on COVID-19 5 from interested scientists and researchers under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF), a platform for bilateral collaboration in science, jointly managed and funded by the Governments of India and Australia. The research proposals are expected to focus on antiviral coatings, other preventive technologies, data analytics, modelling, AI applications, and screening and diagnostic testing as priority areas. The project duration would be for 12 months with maximum extension of 6 months.
More details are available on online: dst.gov.in Last date for submission of online application: 2nd July 2020
Kerala start-up ties up with SCTIMST to launch IoT-based used mask disposal smart bin & UV light-based disinfection device to beat COVID-19
VST Mobility Solutions, a start-up headquartered at Cochin, has launched an automated mask disposal machine as part of its efforts to develop products helping to combat the COVID-19. The disposal device, named BIN-19, has used technology developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, an institute of national importance under DST, Government of India. It was formally launched by Ernakulam District Collector S. Suhas by installing a unit at his office, the administrative headquarters of the district. The Internet of Things (IoT)-based BIN-19 is used for collecting and disinfecting used facemask. The device has been subjected to a series of successful microbiological tests by Sree Chitra Lab. Sree Chitra is one of the testing agencies for UV-based devices in the country as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Public & expert consultation Town Hall Meet for STIP 2020 launched
STIP 2020 Town Hall Meet, the Track-I public & expert consultation process for the formulation of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 was launched by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Professor K VijayRaghavan and Secretary, DST Professor Ashutosh Sharma on June 12, 2020. 5 While inaugurating STIP 2020 Town Hall Meet, Prof K VijayRaghavan said that COVID-19 has shown us that it is critical to invest in science with missions focusing on critical areas like Change and Sustainability, Environment and Biodiversity and Information. “India is one of the few postcolonial countries that have invested in the development of Science and Technology,” he added. He pointed out the necessity to make science and knowledge accessible freely for everybody across languages and other existing barriers. He said that the consequence of the policy should be to reach out to as many people as possible and for that translation of science is extremely important so that people can think independently in their own language and access knowledge and resources. The Track I consultation process involves an extensive public and expert consultations through Science Policy Forum, a dedicated platform for soliciting inputs from larger public and expert pool, to make the formulation of STIP 2020 decentralized, bottom-up, and inclusive. The engagements in Track I will include public dialogue series with thought leaders and policy scholars, a thematic panel discussion with public engagement, targeted survey instruments, print media articles and channels for written inputs, community podcasts for last-mile connectivity.
DST Secretary interacts with STIP 2020 Secretariat team
Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, interacted with STIP 2020 Secretariat comprising policy fellows, DST officials, and PSA officials, involved in the STIP 2020 formulation process. He highlighted the importance of tapping into think tanks for their recommendations, reflection of interconnectedness between knowledge generation and knowledge consumption systems and linkages between different sectors and emerging areas like AI, in the policy formation process. “Several existing knowledge pools like TIFAC, policy research centres, industry bodies like CII, FICCI have already studied and thought about many of the issues related to science policy, and we can invite well-considered recommendations from them. Besides, much as science covers several sectors which have been covered in the 21 thematic groups, there are linkages between the different sectors, the new and emerging areas of science like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, and the traditional sectors. Also, there is a lot of interconnectedness between knowledge generation and knowledge consumption systems in the policy. These should be integrated in the policy,” Professor Sharma said during the interactive sessions. He encouraged the young policy fellows who would play a crucial part in the policy formation process and added that their energy and enthusiasm combined with the wisdom of the seniors would make the process a successful decentralized and inclusive one.
NCVTC to develop of host-directed antivirals for COVID-19
The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has approved support for a study by the National Centre for Veterinary Type Cultures (NCVTC), ICAR-NRC from Hisar in Haryana, which will screen their library of 94 small molecule chemical inhibitors for antivirals against coronaviruses. The molecules are known to inhibit cellular kinases, phosphatases, and epigenetic regulators such as histone methyl transferase, histone deacetylase, and DNA methyl transferase. The targets of these inhibitors are well characterized in cancer; however, their role in the virus lifecycle is not known. The selected candidates (hits) with anti-coronavirus activity will be studied for their molecular mechanism of action, besides examining generation of potential drug-resistant virus variants. Classically, antiviral drugs are developed by directly targeting certain viral proteins. However, this strategy often fails due to the rapid generation of drug-resistant viruses. Unlike higher organisms, a viral polymerase--the viral enzyme that synthesizes its nucleic acid (RNA)--does not have proofreading capacity. Therefore, RNA viruses such as the coronaviruses do not have the mechanisms to remove wrongly incorporated nucleotides (building blocks of viral RNA) during the synthesis of the viral genome. The lack of proofreading capacity results in the accumulation of point mutations in the viral genome. This leads to changes in viral proteins. The altered viral proteins may then become resistant to the available antiviral drugs. This intriguing ability of the viruses to rapidly and frequently change themselves is a big challenge for the scientists in developing antiviral drugs.
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute joins hands with Tata Sons to augment production of COVID-19 testing kits
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, an institution of national importance, DST, Government of India, has entered into a partnership agreement with Tata Group for commercial production of COVID-19 testing kits. The kits will be based on RT-LAMP (Reverse Transcriptase Loop-Mediated Amplification) technology for COVID-19 detection, which can produce results in significantly less time, thereby increasing the throughput of labs in India. The tests are expected to get approval shortly, and production will commence soon after. The RT-LAMP is a futuristic technology that can be adapted for a point-of-care setting. The ‘Chitra Gene LAMP-N’ test uses an isothermal setup to create copies of viral DNA for detection, which significantly reduces the complexity of the overall process compared to the prevalent Real-Time PCR technology. Additionally, the test also uses proprietary magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction, which gives a highly purified and concentrated level of RNA from the swab sample. “The mass production of RT-Lamp-based COVID-19 testing kits with the active support of the Tata Group will be a significant milestone for the Institute. I would like to commend the efforts of the research & development team of the Institute and the Tata Group in building this partnership at this critical time to serve the needs of the nation,” said Dr. VK Saraswat, Member Niti Aayog and President, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology.
COVID-19 testing & research lab at IASST will help treat positive cases early & combat the disease in North East
Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, an autonomous institute of the DST, Government of India in coordination with Guwahati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH) and National Health Mission has set up a COVID-19 testing and research laboratory. The lab will not only help identify and treat positive cases at an early stage but can also trigger collaborative research in the disease. 6 Inaugurating the laboratory, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister, Health, Education, and Finance, Government of Assam said that this laboratory with a capacity of 1000 tests per day will boost the Government’s fight against COVID-19. A higher testing rate will reduce the institutional quarantine duration for negative cases and will help to provide treatment to the positive cases at an early stage. Dr Sarma also expected that this facility would provide a unique platform to carry out collaborative research work between faculty of IASST and GMCH.
SCTIMST providing voluntary service in efforts to combat COVID-19
With the COVID-19 virus threat continuing to be a cause for concern, various employee organizations at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) joined hands to kick-start social service initiatives on a massive scale. The employee bodies rallied under a single umbrella and initiated a WhatsApp group in a bid to provide the much-needed support to COVID-19-infected staff and those on quarantine, making sure that food, medicine, and groceries were made available to them. Transportation, to staff working in COVID 19 labs, delivery of HCQ to quarantine staff were also ensured without any hassle. ‘buddies@sctimst,’ a WhatsApp group, took over coordination of volunteer work at all levels. The digital network helped in identifying service requirements for all people, irrespective of designations.
DST building resilience of SC & STs against COVID-19 through S&T interventions
The Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) division of the DST is providing grant-in-aid support to several Knowledge Institutions (KIs), and Science and Technology (S&T)-based Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) for the holistic development of SC and ST communities to help them tide over the nationwide lockdown that affected livelihood and economic condition of the communities. The national lockdown had crippled mobility and human contact to an extent that it has presented a unique challenge to effectively respond to the needs of the SC and ST communities at grassroots. Besides, pre-existing challenges related to health, compromised dietary practices, poor affordability, low educational levels, and lack of awareness about healthcare and social services pose obstacles to reach relief and rehabilitation measures to the communities. The support provided to the network of KIs and S&T-based NGOs by the SEED division has brought convergence among different stakeholders, especially the NGO network with grassroots presence and knowledge organizations, and they are working closely with these communities for implementing effective response, recovery and resilience strategies.
Research proposals invited for COVID-19 for bilateral collaboration in science between India & Australia
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia jointly announced a Special COVID-19 Collaboration in 2020 during an India-Australia Leaders’ Virtual Summit on 04 June 2020. Accordingly, DST, Ministry of Science & Technology, GOI and Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), Australia have invited joint research projects on COVID-19 from interested scientists and researchers under the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF), a platform for bilateral collaboration in science, jointly managed and funded by the governments of India and Australia. The research proposals are expected to focus on antiviral coatings, other preventive technologies, data analytics, modelling, AI applications, and screening and diagnostic testing as priority areas. The project duration would be for 12 months with maximum extension of 6 months.
More details are available on online: dst.gov.in Last date for submission of online application: 2nd July 2020
ARCI & Mekins develop UVC-based multipurpose disinfection cabinet for containing surface contamination of COVID-19
International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D Centre of DST, Government of India and MEKINS Industries have codeveloped a UVC-based cabinet for disinfecting non-critical hospital items, laboratory wear, and PPEs in the research laboratories to prevent surface contamination of COVID-19. It can also be used to disinfect items exhibited to customers in commercial establishments and several domestic items. India was successful in controlling the spread of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the first few phases of lockdown due to strict implementation of COVID-19 guidelines. But, with relaxation of the lockdown, there is a chance of slow spread of disease due to the movement of people across the country, and this is predicted to continue for some time. Transmission through surface contamination is an unpredictable risk in which common utilities play a key role.
DST releases information brochure on health & risk communication programme focusing on COVID-19
The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) has released an information brochure for a recently launched programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH) with focus on COVID-19’. The brochure carries information on the genesis and need of such a mega programme in the country to address the issues of risks, crises, disasters, and uncertainties especially posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme focuses on enhancing public understanding and awareness on science and health for better preparedness to cope with the present and future challenges. Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST said that a wide array of programmes and activities built around awareness and outreach have been envisaged involving print, electronic, digital, folk and interactive media to reach out to large cross-sections of the society under the campaign. He added that the logo of the YASH programme has been designed to create a wave of peace and bliss and depicts a sense of overcoming the situation at large and would act as a harbinger of taking forward the messages of science, health, risk and awareness.
DST initiates COVID-19 India National Supermodel for monitoring infection transmission & aid decision-making by policymakers
The DST has initiated a COVID-19 Indian National Supermodel to help monitor the future transmission of infection, thus aiding decisions involving health system readiness and other mitigation measures. While the Government is keeping a close watch on infectivity and mortality, it is imperative to bring in a robust forecasting model for predicting the spread and enhancing disease surveillance. Numerous mathematical models for COVID-19 forecasting and surveillance are being worked out by investigators funded by DST-SERB (Science and Engineering Research Board) and other agencies. Inspired by India’s history of using mathematical models for disaster management planning of metrological events, DST has initiated this exercise to pool in expertise in the field and create one model for the entire country that will be subjected to rigorous tests required for evidence-based forecasting, routinely practiced in weather forecasting communities.
DST-SERB supports study for identification of structurebased potential antivirals against COVID-19
The SERB under DST has recently supported a proposed study by Prof. Pravindra Kumar from IITRoorkee for identification of structure-based potential antivirals against SARS-CoV-2. The Study, to be funded under Intensification of Research in High Priority areas (IRHPA), will search for small molecule inhibitors targeting some of the most important viral replication enzymes. These enzymes are viral proteases (papain-like protease & 3CLprotease), RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (nsp12), and the Methyltransferase or MTase (nsp14). Viral proteases, which are enzymes encoded by the genetic material (DNA or RNA) of viral pathogens, catalyze the cleavage of specific peptide bonds in cellular proteins.
NCSTC brings out popular COVID Katha in Hindi
The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), DST in association with Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust has brought out the Hindi version of the popular multimedia guide for mass awareness carrying important information on A-to-Z of COVID-19 pandemic. The English version has already been released. In order to fulfil the great demand of the Hindi version of COVID Katha, especially from the Hindi heartland, the Hindi edition has been brought out with added and revised information for the benefit of the people. Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST while appreciating COVID Katha: A Multimedia Guide for Mass Awareness, has said that the interpretation of science in common man’s language is important for awareness among laypersons and Hindi being largely spoken language the Hindi version of COVID Katha carries more value. Prof. Sharma said that science cartoons (scientoons) while carrying scientific messages and explaining the health concepts in a simple manner also add humour and amusement during the present health crisis when people feel stressed!
NECTAR's contribution to combat COVID-19
North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR), an autonomous institution of DST, is organizing skill development and informative webinar series, especially for the displaced skilled and non-skilled workers of North East Region, who are now waiting for opening up of lockdown and for immediate work opportunity available locally. There are more than 10 lakh migrant workers from NE region working at different places in the country. Some of them have already returned and many of them are on the verge of retuning during post lockdown. Hence it is of utmost importance to make them self dependent after the lockdown as possibility of returning to their earlier jobs are very less. Hence, this webinar series has been initiated to find some solutions mainly for migrant workers of NE region. The webinar series has started from 11th May 2020 and already 8 lectures were given by experts on water treatment for COVID quarantine centres and Bamboo sectors initiative in NE, Concept of Hydroponics, Organic Horticulture initiatives, and prospects through MSME etc. Mostly talks were attended by state government officials, self-help groups and local NGOs of NER. All talks are initially available for concerned state government officials, so that they can take it further immediately after lockdown. Based on the outcome, NECTAR will initiate various skill development programmes for migrant workers in NE in collaboration with state government departments after lockdown. NECTAR has already inducted 14 North East-based students 6 from science and engineering background to participate in a large-scale agriculture crop study project in NECTAR through online mode especially due to restriction in lieu of COVID-19 pandemic. Other lectures of webinar series would be delivered by eminent experts on Horticulture, Aquaculture, Food Processing Technology, Organic Agriculture farming, Fiber extraction technology, Green Technology Innovations for Generating Sustainable Livelihoods in North Eastern States. NECTAR, in its efforts to develop solutions to tackle the current COVID-19 crisis, especially with respect to progress made in indigenous development of technologies has come up with plasma-based sterilization and air purifier systems technologies. A system has been initiated to develop technologies based on plasma sterilization for virus disinfections and/or destruction, relevant to COVID-19. The objects of interest for sterilization may be gloves, masks and aprons etc. using the technology. The method is clean and environment friendly as there is no chemical waste or contaminated water coming out.The system would be ready for testing by the 3rd week of June 2020. Plasma-based Discharge Purifier has also been developed to clean the contaminated air that gets in or gets out (to prevent environment contamination) of rooms, hospitals, labs etc. so that the virus is destroyed in it, and its further dispersion can be stopped. The system is getting ready in collaboration with M/S Aditya High Vacuum, Ahmedabad.
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IIT, BHU to repurpose approved drugs from DrugBank database for treating COVID-19 by targeting SARS-CoV-2 main protease
The Science and Engineering Research Board has approved support for research at IIT (BHU) Varanasi to identify lead compound(s) from available and approved drugs for fast-track antiSARS-CoV-2 drug molecule. Scientists and healthcare professionals over the world are trying for a cure for the pandemic, which afflicts the world today. At present, available treatments are focused only on symptomatic relief to help the patient overcome the infection. Repurposing of pre-existing drugs could help circumvent both the time and money required to find an effective cure. The research group of Prof. Vikash Kumar Dubey is working on developing new drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 by exploring DrugBank (DrugBank is a database of FDA-approved drug compounds. This database will be used for searching drug against SARS-CoV-2) database compounds as an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 main protease, a key enzyme required for SARSCoV-2 assembly and multiplication. They will be carrying out extensive computational and experimental studies to identify an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 main protease.
We need to examine knowledge chain to see how S&T will lead to Atmanirbhar Bharat: DST Secretary at Rajasthan STRIDE Virtual Summit
Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, Government of India, stressed on the need to examine and strengthen the knowledge chain end to end to see how Science & Technology will lead to Atmanirbhar Bharat while speaking at the Rajasthan STRIDE Virtual Conclave, an initiative by the Department of Science & Technology, Government of Rajasthan organized on 30th May, 2020. “Since there is a call for Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliance, it has to be responded with global quality. To become self-reliant, we have to build up on the strengths of India, which are its R&D, Design, workforce, huge markets, demographic dividend, its diversity, and data,” he said. Focusing on Science, Society and Self-reliance, Professor Sharma touched upon the learnings from the COVID-19 crisis. “In the last two months, great things have happened in terms of bringing solutions for COVID-19, be it designing world-class ventilators or new diagnostic methods. All this has happened because of a clear and present understanding of our needs and priorities and a problem-centric approach which involved both academia and industry as partners. We can build on our strengths and the lessons of COVID-19 with speed and scale by strongly connecting our knowledge generation systems with knowledge consumption for the benefit of both,” he said.
Innovative disinfection & sanitization solutions by common people selected in NIF’s Challenge COVID-19 Competition (C3)
National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF), an autonomous body of the DST, has recently supported two innovative disinfection solutions by common people which were received as a response to its Challenge COVID-19 Competition (C3). A Vehicle Disinfectant Bay and a Foot-operated Height Adjustable Hands-Free Sanitizer Dispenser Stand are the two recently supported innovations under the campaign. 8 The Vehicle Disinfectant Bay is a device to disinfect vehicles automatically, which reduces time and energy by completing the disinfection process of a vehicle in a very short time without much effort. It consists of a frame, tank, motor, MCB Board, agronet, nozzles, valves, pipes, and fittings and works on the principle of spraying disinfectant liquid by using an AC motor technology for operation. It can be deployed easily at State Border/Checkposts, which are the entry point of vehicles in a State. It is already installed at two checkposts in the State of Sikkim - Rangpo Checkposts, East Sikkim, and Melli checkposts, South Sikkim. The Foot-operated Height Adjustable Hands-Free Sanitizer Dispenser Stand is an ideal ubiquitous hygiene solution for residential, commercial, and industrial applications wherein one simply needs to press with the foot a pedal, and the sanitizer will be dispensed. Its height is adjustable as per sanitizer bottle size and it is steel epoxy powder coated. It also has nonskidding rubber shoes and has a special bottle holder made of high quality elastic. It can be deployed at malls, airports, theatres, banks, business parks, factories, educational institutions, bus depots or railway stations, hotels, restaurants, and so on. It is being commercialized by Mumbai-based Vissco Rehabilitation Aids Pvt. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of orthopedic products and mobility aids.
RNA extraction kit Agappe Chitra Magna launched commercially for detection of COVID-19
The commercial launch of Agappe Chitra Magna, a magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction kit for use during detection of COVID-19 was announced by Dr VK Saraswat, NITI Aayog member and President of Institute body of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) at a programme attended by Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, Government of India; Dr Asha Kishore, Director SCTIMST; and Dr HK Varma, Head Biomedical Technology and scientists of the Institute, through video conference. The RNA extraction kit was developed by SCTIMST, Thiruvananthapuram, an Institute of national importance of the DST along with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd, an in vitro diagnostics manufacturing company based in Cochin. “The commercial launch of the kit is a major step to make India self-reliant in detecting COVID-19 and can help increase the rate of testing and bring down its costs, a crucial step for combating the pandemic. It can also be an example of rapid commercialization and implementation of a state of the art technology for the world to emulate,” said Dr Saraswat while announcing the launch.
Comfortable facemask designed by CeNS could encourage public to use it for long hours
A team of researchers at Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bengaluru, an autonomous institute of the DST, have developed a cup-shaped design (patent filed) of the facemask that helps to create enough space in front of the mouth while speaking. It has been transferred to a Bengaluru-based company for mass production. This snug fit mask causes no speech distortion, no fogging on glasses, and indeed packs well all around, leaving practically no room for leakage while breathing. Another important advantage 7 is its high breathability allowing one to wear it without any discomfort. Further, the researchers have chosen the fabric layers such that there is a possibility of deactivating pathogens sheerly by the electric charges that may prevail under mild friction due to the triboelectric nature of the fabric.
JNCASR develops versatile coating to stop spread of viruses like influenza and COVID-19
An antimicrobial coating, developed by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore, an autonomous institute under the DST, has shown excellent 8 results in tackling the spread of deadly influenza virus, the root cause of severe respiratory infections, by inactivating large loads of influenza virus. The Science and Engineering Research Board, a unit of the DST is supporting further development of this coating for the country’s war against COVID-19. The proven efficiency of the coating in 100% destruction of influenza virus (an enveloped virus) shows that the coating may be effective in destroying COVID-19 – another enveloped virus upon contact. The technology which is simple and hence do not require skilled personnel for its development is already set to be tested against COVD-19. If found to be active, a number of PPEs, such as masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, etc. used by doctors and nurses can be coated with it, imparting enhanced protection and safety to them. This will aid them to fight the battle against COVID-19 more effectively.
DST approves funding for developing a gel for nasal passage as prevention for COVID-19
SERB, a statutory body of the DST, is supporting a technology by the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering (DBB), IIT Bombay for capturing and inactivation of novel coronavirus, the causative agent of COVID-19. The funding will help the team from the DBB, IIT Bombay develop a gel that can be applied to nasal passage, which is a major entry point of the coronavirus. This solution is not only expected to protect the safety of health workers, but can also lead to reduction in community transmission of COVID-19, thereby helping disease management. Given the contagious nature of COVID-19, healthcare providers including doctors and nurses are at maximum risk while taking care of COVID-19 patients, particularly asymptomatic ones who cannot be detected and pose a greater risk in spreading the disease. The team is planning a two-pronged approach to limit transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Primarily, since viruses replicate within host cells of the lungs, the first component of the strategy will be to inhibit binding of viruses to host cells. While this is expected to reduce host cell infection, viruses will still remain active, therefore, raising the need to inactivate them.
Knowledge Organizations focus on initiatives for socioeconomic rejuvenation and resilience using S&T during COVID-19 pandemic
Knowledge Organizations across the country have started creating scientific awareness on COVID-19 using social, print and electronic media and have also started initiatives for building resilience at community level during and post-lockdown period in response to the advisory issued by the DST as part of their Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR). DST-funded labs CSIR-NBRI; ICAR Labs; Chandigarh University; Manipur University; Sher-eKashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology of Kashmir (SKAUST), Srinagar; and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, Punjab contributed their knowledge and resources for the development and distribution of sanitizer as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, mask preparation as per the guidelines issued by Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) and services for COVID-19 testing. A mobile App-based regular advisory to pregnant women has been initiated under already ongoing projects at AIIMS New Delhi. SKAUST, Srinagar initiated a telemedicine facility for monitoring the health of farm animals under ongoing projects. In order to address breathingrelated issues, a herbal decongestion spray on the principles of Ayurveda has been developed. More than 5000 L of sanitizer has been distributed among migrant population at AIIMS-New Delhi; Safdurjung Hospital, New Delhi; and Police Department of Haryana, Punjab, and UP and the process is continuing towards the containment of disease. The technology of herbal sanitizer developed under the DST-funded ongoing project has been transferred to companies for bulk production and sustaining the supply for public consumptions at an affordable rate. The protocol has been shared with Voluntary Organizations for distribution at the local level.
DST supports assistive tools, technologies and techniques to combat challenges faced by Divyangjan & elderly during COVID-19
The DST has taken several initiatives to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 among Divyangjan and elderly and identified various challenges faced by them for finding technological solutions. The organizations supported by Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division of DST have been instrumental in developing various assistive tools, technologies 2 and techniques, that are affordable and adaptable to the Indian milieu through its programme on Technology Interventions for Disabled and Elderly (TIDE), for creating inclusiveness and universal accessibility for Divyangjan and elderly. Under this programme an e-Tool to create awareness and impart health and hygiene-related information along with education and entertainment to overcome loneliness of the persons with intellectual disabilities due to COVID-19 pandemic has been developed by Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai. This will help the persons with intellectual disability to learn with fun through Tabs and mobiles. The e-Tool can also be converted to other vernacular languages and the Beta Version of the e-tool is used by 200 specially-abled children.
S&T-based innovative solutions by common people participating in NIF’s Challenge COVID-19 Competition (C3) ready to make a difference
The National Innovation Foundation–India (NIF), an autonomous body of the DST has identified several S&T-based innovative solutions through the Challenge COVID-19 Competition (C3), a campaign which was running from 31st March to 10th May 2020 for engaging innovative citizens to come up with ideas and innovations to tackle the pandemic. NIF is providing incubation and mentoring support for further dissemination to the generator of the ideas. A foot-operated device for hand sanitization and washing and an innovative sprayer for sanitization are the two recently supported innovations under the campaign. Shri Mupparapu Raju from Warrangal, Telangana has designed the foot-operated device for hand sanitization and washing, which is a timely solution in response to need for contactless devices in the prevailing COVID-19 environment. It facilitates dispensing of soap and water by way of operating the device by foot and not hands. As a result, there is no hand-related contact between the user and sanitizer, soap, or water, which are adequately stored in separate containers as a part of the device. Shri Raju has implemented the device at various locations (Warrangal, Mahabubabad, and others) in the State of Telangana. NIF has extended support to the innovator for value addition and in meeting the production commitments.
TDB approves technologies to augment India’s efforts to combat COVID-19
Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the DST, is proactively supporting the efforts of the scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and industrialists towards preventing and containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing financial support for commercialization of these technologies. In addition, TDB is also scouting for novel solutions for supporting the country’s efforts in tackling the healthcare emergency that the world is facing. 3 In the last few weeks, TDB, through its evaluation process, has processed a large number of applications under various domains. Till date, it has approved six projects towards commercialization, which include thermal scanners, medical devices, masks, and diagnostic kits.
JNCASR develops Predictive Model for COVID-19 DistrictWise Projections for each state in India
Researchers at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a predictive model for spread of the novel coronaviruses, SARS-COV-2. The model gives a state-wise projection for the following few weeks. The Model developed by Prof. Santosh Ansumali from JNCASR and Prof Aloke Kumar from IISc offers a state-wise analysis, throwing up several features of the pandemic wave in India. To facilitate the same, a virtual war room has been set up at JNCASR, wherein the data from various sources like hospitals, community health centre etc., are being collected, analysed, mapped and the resultant output is being shared with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser.
Training course on Laboratory Diagnosis of COVID-19
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that leads to severe respiratory illness. While the demand for testing is very high, there is a severe shortage of trained persons to carry out these specialized tests. To help build capacity for the national fight against COVID-19, the COVID Diagnostic Training Centre is being established at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute of the DST. The Centre is offering comprehensive training in molecular clinical diagnostics effective immediately. The six-week residential Training Course is designed to impart theoretical knowledge and hands-on expertise in required molecular biology techniques and BSL-2 workflow. The training does not require handling of live SARS-CoV-2 virus. Skills mastered during the course will make trainees adapt at performing immune and molecular diagnostic assays in a clinical set up.
Call for Proposals under National Health and Risk Communication Programme ‘Year of Awareness on Science and Health (YASH)’ for COVID-19
National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), DST launches a programme on health and risk communication “Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)” with focus on COVID-19.
Special call for proposals has been announced for science, health and risk communication with focus on COVID-19 - building improved risk understanding, an analytical mind, and informed decision-making capacity among target groups including working with local sensitivities, belief systems, traditions, and indigenous knowledge; translation, target group-specific interpretations and usage of authentic scientific and health information to communicate the risks and facilitate risk management; attitudinal changes about appreciating risks, associated challenges and solutions and assessment of public perceptions; improved ability to clarify mis-perceptions, mis-beliefs, mal-practices-based authentic knowledge duly verified by scientific processes; trust in scientific competence of solutions and service providers and better working relations with community leaders, influencers including faith leaders, doctors, etc.; science literacy for risk reduction; development of science, health, and risk communication software in terms of publications, audio-visual, digital platforms, low-cost learning aids, folk performances, trained communicators, especially in regional languages; campaigns, hands-on science, demo/ exhibitions/fairs, mela, jatha, competitions, children centric outreach, etc.
Last date for submission of Proposal: 31st May 2020
India is well poised to reboot the economy through S&T: Dr. Harsh Vardhan
The Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on May 11, 2020 that India’s fight against Covid-19 is moving fast ahead strongly and steadily. He was addressing a Digital Conference, RESTART – ‘Reboot the Economy through Science, Technology and Research Translations’, organised to celebrate the National Technology Day. The Conference was organised by the Technology Development Board (TDB) a statutory body of the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). While applauding the Ministry of Science & Technology’s response to epidemics like COVID in the country, Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasized that the S&T response reflects the collaborative spirit of the entire S&T ecosystem. “Indian Government, academia, scientists, start-ups, entrepreneurs and industry have been working relentlessly to find solutions to combat this pandemic. We must appreciate the efforts of our scientists, our entrepreneurs and our institutions working to find quick and deployable solutions for COVID-19. New discoveries, industry partnerships, and enhanced researches have thus been rapidly developed and adopted,” said the Minister. “Within a short period of time, the nation has been able to mobilize a number of researchers to develop new testing kits, protective equipment, respiratory devices, etc.,” he added.
Digital conference on rebooting the economy through S&T highlights the importance of collaborations in overcoming COVID-19 challenge
The fourth session on Global Innovation & Technology Alliance for Global Economic Leadership at the digital conference on ‘Rebooting the Economy through Science, Technology, and Research Translations’ organised on the occasion of Technology Day on May 11, 2020 highlighted the importance of global collaborations in dealing with the challenge of COVID-19. This was organised on the occasion of National Technology Day on 11th May jointly by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and had the presence of esteemed dignitaries from India and the world as panellists. “In today’s scenario, virtual collaboration is the key to connect globally to fight against the common challenge of COVID-19. Over the years, the whole area of S&T has moved in a direction where we talk about collaboration, be it national or global, and collaboration between countries must continue with much vigour,” said Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India while addressing the session. H.E. Vincenzo de Luca, Ambassador of Italy to India, talked about Italy & India’s robust S&T cooperation, which came into force in 2009. He said that it has directly evolved with counterpart Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, to sponsor research. He also mentioned how the regular organisation of joint workshops on topics likes Information & Communication Technology, Sustainable Energy & protection of the environment has also helped build S&T cooperation with India.
Digital conference on Rebooting the Economy through S&T discusses transformation of manufacturing companies in post COVID-19 pandemic
The session on ‘Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Sustainable Future’ at the digital conference on ‘Rebooting the Economy through Science, Technology, and Research Translations’ organised on the occasion of Technology Day on May 11, 2020 discussed how manufacturing companies were undergoing digital transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Bringing the Digital and physical world together COVID has forced the Industries, who were sitting on the fence to go for digital transformation, which has brought a tremendous change,” said Alok Nanda, CEO, GE India Technology Centre. “We have to look for what is more relevant and near term and become productive using digital thread and computational technology,” he added.
Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Stratasys India pointed out that the world is moving towards mass customization and mass specialization today, and technology like 3-D printing plays a major role in it. Traditional manufacturing has some constraints, but 3D printing gives design freedom by shifting the design content from single components to system. Dr. BB Ahuja, Director, College of Engineering, Pune, stressed that additive manufacturing can change the fundamentals of manufacturing, and hence we need to accelerate to adapt this technology in India. Giving example of the Mechanical AMBU, a low-cost mechanical ventilator developed in his college under a cost of about Rs. 10,000-12,000, he added that creative technology ideas within the country can help solve the supply chain problem.
The pandemic is a great opportunity for R&D: Experts at digital conference on Rebooting the Economy through S&T
The session on ‘Medicines & Medical Technologies for Better Preparedness to Face Pandemics’ at the digital conference on ‘Rebooting the Economy through Science, Technology and Research Translations’ organised on the occasion of Technology Day on May 11, 2020 highlighted that the Pandemic is a great opportunity for R&D and needs to be used for strengthening it. Kalavathi GV, Vice President and Head, Philips Innovation Campus, said that devices were needed for easy screening processes, daily monitoring of patients, remote patient monitoring, diagnosis, pre-set protocol for lung screening, hand-held ultrasound device, electronic ICU, 24 × 7 clinical capabilities without physical touch, ventilators and other digital technologies and that Philips innovation was getting ready with many of these. The day-long digital conference which brought together scientists, government officials, academia, and representatives of industry was organized by Technology Development Board, an autonomous organization of the Department of Science and Technology along with Confederation of Indian Industry. The COVID crisis has unfolded some of the best medical advancements and innovations in history like drug discovery, vaccines, and diagnostic tools, and other medical devices, as well as ways to preserve electronic health records have taken place. Experts pointed out how these medical innovations can be harnessed for better preparedness to face future pandemics.
Research should be brought closer to the Industry: Experts at digital conference on Rebooting the Economy through S&T
The session on ‘Conference on Advanced Materials’ at the digital conference on ‘Rebooting the Economy through Science, Technology and Research Translations’ organised on the occasion of Technology Day on May 11, 2020 highlighted that to tackle pandemics like COVID-19 research needs to quickly switch over from being capital-intensive to knowledge-intensive and should be brought closer to the industry. “The strategy for CSIR is to shift from capital intensity to knowledge intensity of research, and we wish to become knowledge partners of many industries. CSIR has tied up with all the major industries for anti-COVID-19 strategies that we have come out with,” said Dr. Shekhar C Mande, Director-General, CSIR.
Speakers at the session agreed that the novel materials such as smart materials, special purpose alloys, engineering polymers & blends, graphene, composites, etc. will be the key to revamping the industry’s product lines in the future. They spoke on how materials are the cornerstones for new-age technology solutions for complex functional problems. Research workers across the world are engaged in developing novel materials designed with specific properties and engineered to deliver focused functional requirements. Investment in such knowledge-based, value-added materials will go a long way in accelerating the economic activities and ensuring an attractive return for the industry, they said.
Amid lockdown, SCTIMST gears up to meet COVID-19 pandemic with R&D, technologies and products
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) is an Institution of national importance under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. It stood out with its research, technologies, and innovations to meet the need of the hour in India’s fight against COVID-19. Even though the Institute had to quarantine a number of staff when a doctor, after returning from a foreign trip, was detected with COVID-19 much before the nationwide lockdown, SCTIMST rose up to the occasion to come up with several technologies and products that could be crucial to combat the diseases. Its one-step confirmatory diagnostic kit for COVID-19 developed in three weeks could solve India’s urgent need for rapid testing. The other R&D work on the issue included a UV-based Facemask Disposal Bin which can be used by health workers in hospitals and in public places for decontamination of used facemask, overhead covers and face shields, a superabsorbent material for liquid respiratory and other body fluid solidification and disinfection for the safe management of infected respiratory secretions and a disinfected barrier-examination booth for examining COVID-19 patients.
Contact: Ms. Swapna Vamadevan, PRO, SCTIMST; Email: email@example.com
DST supports development of reusable N95 & N99 mask with enhanced antiviral efficiency
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved support for development and upscaling of reusable N95 and N99 masks with enhanced antiviral and antibacterial property designed by Dr. Sri Sivakumar from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur under the Nano Mission. The masks will be made of nanofibers developed from polymers (e.g., chitosan, polycaprolactone, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene). They will have inorganic antiviral or bacterial nanoparticles as well as organic antiviral and bacterial molecules. The nanofiberbased masks will have four layers of construction, and filtration size would be 0.01 to 0.3 micrometers. N95 and N99 are classified as an antipollution face mask, which possesses 95% and 99% filtration efficiency of 0.3-micron particulate matter, respectively. However, these masks fail to protect a person from the particle size lesser than 0.3 microns. To achieve higher filtration efficiency between the range of 0.01-0.3 micron particulate matter (e.g., Coronavirus, bacteria and other pollutants), the mask has to be designed with finer pore size.
Contact: Dr. Sri Sivakumar; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SNBNCBS develops Nanomedicine to alter oxidative stress for better immune power to treat viral infections including COVID-19
Scientists at S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata have developed a safe and cost-effective nanomedicine that promises treatment of a number of diseases by altering oxidative stress in the body. The research may provide a ray of hope in India’s fight against COVID-19, as the nanomedicine can decrease or increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) in our body, depending on the situation and cure the disease. The ability of this research for controlled enhancement of ROS in mammals raises hopes of a new potential for the application of nanomedicine in controlling virus infections, including COVID-19. Animal trial for the Reduction & Oxidation processes (Redox) healing of several diseases is completed, and now the institute is looking for sponsors to start clinical trials on humans.
Contact: Dr Samir K Pal, Senior Professor; Email: email@example.com
SERB approves funding for study of mathematical & simulation aspects of COVID-19
Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has approved funding for 11 projects under MATRICS scheme for studying Mathematical modelling and computational aspects to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these studies attempt to propose mathematical/simulation models to account for various factors relevant to COVID-19 by modifying the basic SIR (Susceptible-InfectedRecovered) models. Some of such factors are heterogeneity of population, the role of asymptomatic population, migration and quarantine, effect of social distancing and lockdown, socioeconomic factors and so on. These studies will be primarily aimed at studying Indian conditions and will provide an estimate of Basic Reproduction Number-- the qualitative indicator of the degree of contagiousness of the disease. These will be helpful to forecast future pandemic by using the data available and provide fundamental insights into kinetics and management of infectious diseases.
Contact: Dr. Premila Mohan, Scientist ‘G’, SERB; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DST launches programme on health & risk communication with focus on COVID-19
National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on COVID-19. It is a comprehensive and effective science and health communication effort for promoting grass-root level appreciation and response on health and would help saving and shaping the lives of people at large, as well as build confidence, inculcate scientific temper and promote health consciousness among them. The current pandemic scenario has posed concerns and challenges all around, where scientific awareness and health preparedness play a significant role to help combat the situation. This requires translation and usage of authentic scientific information to convey the risks involved which would facilitate communities to overcome the situation. The programme will encompass development of science, health, and risk communication software, publications, audio-visual, digital platforms, folk performances, talks by trained communicators, especially in regional languages to cater to various cross-sections of the society in the country.
Contact: Dr. Manoj Kumar Patairiya, Adviser & Head, NCSTC; Email: email@example.com
Sree Chitra develops 2 types of swabs and viral transport medium for COVID-19 testing
Technologists at the Sree Chitra Triunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, have developed two types of nasal and oral swabs and viral transport medium for COVID-19 testing. 7 Chitra EmBed flocked nylon swabs (co-developed with Mallelil Industries Pvt Ltd) and Chitra EnMesh, polymeric foam-tipped, lint-free swabs with flexible plastic handles developed by technologists Dr. Lynda V Thomas, Dr. Shyni Velayudhan and Dr. Maya Nandakumar from SCTIMST have both proven efficiency in the adequacy of specimen collection and rapid elution (extracting one material from another by washing with a solvent) of specimen into the liquid viral medium. They also have good recovery of viral RNA collected using these swabs and medium. The swabs will be available as sterile, ready-to-use devices.
Contact: Ms. Swapna Vamadevan, PRO, SCTIMST; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DST-supported NGO network tackle COVID-19 at community level through S&T interventions
The network of S&T-enabled NGOs spread across 22 States of India, supported by the Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have demonstrated capabilities in containing COVID-19 through various S&T interventions and complemented the efforts of the Government at different States and below levels. Approximately 1,20,000 facemasks were produced complying with the guidelines of Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India. They were distributed in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal and so on, predominantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak .These have been distributed through the network of 30 NGOs and community-based organizations while other members of the NGO network have also been activated to follow.
Antiviral nanocoatings to be upscaled for making triple layer medical masks & N-95 respirator to combat COVID-19
As part of Nano Mission Programme, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved support for upscaling antiviral nanocoatings developed by Professor Ashwini Kumar Agrawal of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi for use as appropriate material for producing anti-COVID-19 triple layer medical masks and N-95 respirator in large quantities. Silver is known to have strong antimicrobial property against bacteria, viruses, fungus, and so on. Professor Agrawal developed N9 blue nanosilver at SMITA Research Lab, IIT Delhi, under the nanomission project, and will be carrying out the upscaling work in association with two industrial partners Resil Chemicals Pvt Ltd. Bengaluru and Nanoclean Global Pvt Ltd., New Delhi. Resil Chemicals will provide N9 blue nanosilver. Nanoclean Global will provide facemasks and PPE materials for the application of nanocoating and will help in the design and fabrication of samples at their facilities.
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute develops magnetic nanoparticlebased RNA extraction kit for PCR and LAMP tests for COVID-19
Chitra Magna, an innovative RNA extraction kit, has been developed by Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an institution of national importance under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, as an innovative technology for isolating RNA from swabs for COVID-19 tests. SARS-COV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19 pandemic, is an RNA virus - a long singlestranded polymeric substance present in all living cells that carries the genetic information of the organism necessary for life. One of the critical steps in detecting this virus is by confirming the presence of the RNA of the virus in the sample taken from the throat or nose. The sample collected is transported under specified conditions in a viral transport medium to the testing laboratory.
DST-supported start-up offers a digital platform to monitor ground level situations by integrating with drones for COVID-19
FlytBase, an enterprise incubated at the Bhau Institute’s Incubation Centre, Government College of Engineering, Pune, Technology Business Incubator (TBI), under a Department of Science & Technology’s (DST) NIDHI TBI Scheme is offering a digital platform that can monitor ground level situations by integrating with drones. The platform called FlytNow allows drones—increasingly being used for aerial monitoring, emergency response, or urgent delivery of blood samples, medicines as well as lockdown surveillance—to be operated remotely for managing different aspects of COVID-19. Via FlytNow, police authorities are now carrying out live, remote drone operations to monitor the overall social situation through an operator-friendly dashboard and taking measures to monitor crowds and maintain public safety.
UV disinfection trolley can effectively clean up hospital spaces to combat COVID-19
International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and University of Hyderabad (UoH) together with the help of Mekins Industries Ltd. (MIL) have developed a UVC-based disinfection trolley to fight against COVID-19 by rapid cleaning of the hospital environment.
UV light in the range of wavelengths between 200 and 300 nm is capable of inactivating microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, thus disinfecting both the air and solid surfaces. Often, chemical disinfectants are not enough to remove the bacteria and viruses found in hospitals and other contamination-prone environment. Rapid decontamination of the used patient-care beds and hospital rooms before admission of subsequent occupants is a significant requirement in hospitals because of the limited availability of beds. Coronavirus is sensitive to UVC light, as in the case of other viruses and bacteria. The germicidal effects of UVC irradiation with a peak intensity at 254 nm results in cellular damage of the virus, thereby inhibiting cellular replication. Unlike chemical approaches to disinfection, UV light provides rapid, effective inactivation of microorganisms through a physical process.
Organic-inorganic hybrid nanocoatings for disposable masks: A formidable arsenal against pathogenic COVID-19
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved support for largescale production of organicinorganic hybrid nanocoatings for disposable masks developed by Dr Viswanatha R from Jyothy Institute of Technology, Bengaluru under the DST Nano Mission. Dr Viswanatha R intends to make use of the sol-gel nanotechnology to develop a functionalized organic-inorganic hybrid nanocoating based on silica nanoparticles coupled with a polymer matrix that is hydrophobic and disinfects the pathogenic virus associated with COVID-19 that comes in contact with the surface of the mask.
Study shows that COVID-19 may affect the Central Nervous System causing loss of smell and taste
Scientists of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jodhpur have explored the neuroinvasive nature of the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, highlighting that loss of smell and taste of infected patients makes their entire Central Nervous System (CNS) and the underlying structures in the brain more prone to viral infection with devastating effects. Dr Surajit Ghosh and his team have pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 is known to interact with a specific human receptor known as hACE2 (human angiotensin-converting enzyme-2) which also happens to be the entry point of the virus and has an almost ubiquitous presence in most human organs ranging from lung parenchyma to nasal mucosa. The brain is also known to express this receptor.
Science for Society: SEED Division of DST
There is a strong tendency in scientific research, technology and innovation to focus on applications that generate immediate economic benefits to the society en masse. Information in this segment brings about the solutions to societal needs and problems. The society constitutes of various segments whose specific prerequisites for routine survival, based on a number of verticals, like gender centric, rural divide, geographical disadvantage, and elderly and physically challenged, need to be looked into. The programmes and schemes enlisted here provide long-term core support to science-based incubators, which in turn provide technological solutions and their effective delivery for livelihood generation and societal benefits. Under this programme efforts have been made to associate concerned National Labs or other specialist S&T institutions with each major programme so as to build-in expert input, utilize national S&T infrastructure and link it up with grassroots S&T interventions/initiatives. 7 In the critical times of the outbreak of COVID-19 disease, SEED division of DST has supported numerous initiatives to combating the pandemic via direct technological intervention route. Presented here is the list, along with brief details, of all the initiatives as the access to authentic information is of paramount importance.
Facemask and Shield by Vivekananda Institute of Biotechnology, Jadavpur
Vivekananda Institute of Biotechnology made three-layered face mask by following the standard as described by CAST (Centre for Appropriate Social Technologies), Jadavpur. These masks are being distributed at Nimpith, South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
Facemask and Shield by Society for Technology and Development, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
Society for Technology and Development had conducted training programmes for making 2/3 ply reusable sterilized cotton facemasks from 9th to 13th April 2020 at Nagwain, Malori, Badhyal & Kanaid villages of Distt. Mandi. In these programmes 30 women from 15 SHGs participated and got trained. They were also guided in proper usage, upkeep, sterilization and disposal of masks. After this training, these women trained other women of their groups in villages and made about 5000 masks till date. These masks have been distributed to migrant labourers and villagers of the area.
Facemask and Shield by VIKSAT, Gujrat
VIKSAT is a Gujarat-based regional resource agency. One SHG member trained on facemask preparation has prepared 100 facemasks for vulnerable tribal community in Munai village, Bhiloda, Gujarat and also procured 100 facemasks from local authorities and distributed to needy vulnerable tribal families. These masks have been distributed to 100 households.
Face Shields made by Centre for Technology and Development, Society for Economic and Social Studies
Home-scale or small-group production of simple 2- or 3-ply masks and quality control following the protocol recommended by Principal Scientific Advisor would be undertaken in several SHGs distributed throughout the field area. Training has been provided to 5 members of 7 SHGs who are now actively involved in mask making.
Facemask developed by Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute, Gujarat
Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute (SPRERI) planned for 5000 number of cloth facemask for distribution to poor people in rural/tribal areas, nearby hospital dedicated as Covid-19 centre, rural health centres etc. The production activity has been initiated through women SHGs in Anand District. Cost of these cloth masks will be approximately Rs. 10. The project is initially starting in two districts, i.e., Anand and Chota Udepur, Gujarat and nearby rural/tribal areas. Distribution of the masks shall be made through district administration and various line departments and active NGOs in these areas.
Mask prepared by BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune
Technology has been provided by BAIF for preparation of masks. Seven SHGs have started producing masks and 10,000 masks already prepared have been supplied to health department and district rural health agency through support of NAYARA Energy Ltd. and efforts are being made to work in close coordination with the local administration and extend them all required support.
Himalayan Research Group (HRG) Shimla made sanitizers
Himalayan Research Group (HRG) team is making cotton reusable masks at HRG field station, Village Dhangiara Distt. Mandi H.P. One thousand bottles of 100 ml hand sanitizers for distribution has already been sourced.
Barefoot College made masks and sanitizers
Mask made by Barefoot College in Rajasthan is currently provided to individuals who stay on the campus. Later it would be expanded to individuals living nearby Tilonia village. Till date the mask has been provided to medical staff, administrators and cleaners within the campus. These masks are made by the handicraft section in Tilonia using double-layered cotton cloth. The cotton cloth was repurposed to make filter fabric. The hand sanitizers were made using locally sourced alcohol, aloe vera and castor oil. The first batches have been distributed to nearly 100 staff and their families within the campus.
FEEDS distributed sanitizers in Manipur
Ethno-Medicinal Research Centre at FEEDS have taken up the responsibility of making, training and distributing 1500 sanitizer (100ml) across several villages of Manipur.
Disinfectant chamber, face shields developed by Vigyan Ashram
Vigyan Ashram has made a design of disinfection chamber. They had made prototype running at Pabal. It is DIY and needs to be tested and certified from independent lab which can be done after the lockdown period. Vigyan Ashram is making face shield in Fab Lab at Pabal. So far, more than 2000 face shields were made and given to hospitals and health workers. Savitribai Phule Pune University - Design Innovation Centre supported Vigyan Ashram financially to make the face shield and take requisite permission for manufacturing. Now they are planning to prepare additional 1500 face shields in next few days. Vigyan Ashram has supplied an aerosol box. The box is designed to protect doctors from aerosol while putting patients on ventilator. It was supplied to Nobel Hospital, Pune.This box will help healthcare practitioners to avoid direct exposure with patients while treating them.
A predictive model by JNCASR can help prepare for medical needs for COVID-19
A team of researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India along with a collaborator from IISc Bengaluru have developed a heuristic predictive model for COVID-19 that provides shortterm predictions about the evolution of the disease and the medical needs that are generated as a consequence. The model focuses on the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of COVID-19 response – medical inventory management. By providing key figures for medical inventories such as PPEs and ventilators, this model can significantly aid a systematic and meticulously-planned response to the pandemic. It will provide a full layout of the medical inventory needs, including intensive care, acute care, and medical supplies requirements, districtwise, for the coming weeks. It will also provide a pan-India overview of the development of the pandemic, with a state- and district-level insight into its progress.
CeNS uses electrostatics of materials to develop Tribo E mask to protect healthy individuals from COVID 19
Facemasks used by frontline healthcare professionals, which are of high technical quality, need specialised expertise for production. In contrast, a simple facemask that can contain the spread of the Coronavirus is advised for the general public. 4 Such a mask, though rudimentary in its action for containing the viral diffusion across the fabric layer, is expected to reduce the transmission of micro-droplets that linger in the air even during a simple conversation, let alone sneeze. Simple, often homemade, ones are advised for healthy individuals rather than those meant for health workers as there is a limited supply of the latter. If only the choice of the fabric can be made intelligently, the mask can serve the purpose more efficiently. A team of researchers at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bengaluru, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have come up with a recipe for making facemasks, termed as Tribo E Mask, that can hold electric charges to restrict the entry of infections but interestingly, without any external power. The innovation by Dr. Pralay Santra, Dr. Ashutosh Singh, and Prof. Giridhar U. Kulkarni relies on electrostatics. When two non-conducting layers are rubbed against each other, the layers develop positive and negative charges instantly and continue to hold the charges for some time. They have used this electric field, quite strong at proximity, to deactivate or possibly even kill the germs. The mask is three-layered – a layer of nylon cloth sandwiched between polypropylene layers, the latter sourced from commonly used non woven grocery bags. In place of nylon, silk fabric from an old saree or shawl may also be cut and used. When layers are rubbed against each other, the outer layers develop negative charges, while nylon will hold the positive charges. This will act as double electric wall protection against the infectious entities crossing. As the mask is made out of commonly available fabrics, it can be washed just like any other cloth and can 21 be reused. At this stage, the mask is, however, not recommended to healthcare professionals and patients. Tribo E mask has polypropylene layers on the outside and nylon layer in between. When the layers are rubbed against each other, static electricity is produced, which is expected to restrict the possible transmission of infections.
DST invites short-term proposals for developing antiviral Nano-coating and Nano-based material for scale up by industry and start-ups to combat COVID-19
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) using the Science and Engineering Board (SERB) portal invites ideas in the form of short-term proposals for developing antiviral Nanocoating and new nano-based material for use in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which can be transferred to a partnering industry or start-up for scale up. Such Nano-coatings could contribute immensely in the emerging healthcare requirements in India’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This call is for bringing the Academic groups and relevant Industrial groups together for submitting proposals to DST’s Nano Mission. It encourages multidisciplinary efforts and collaboration with industrial partners for scaling up production within a year. The invitation calls for the development of antiviral Nano-coatings for producing antiCOVID-19 triple-layer medical masks and N-95 respirator or better masks in large quantities and PPEs for safeguarding healthcare workers against COVID-19. The proposals will be screened for suitability and scope followed by a peer-review on a firstcome-first-evaluation basis. The items developed and transferred to the industry will need to meet the international standards and may facilitate the development of appropriate Indian standards too for ensuring the quality of the nano-coating-based product.
Last date for submission of proposals: 30 April 2020
TDB approves support for indigenous company to ramp up production of COVID-19 diagnostic kits
The Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has approved financial support to MyLab Discovery Solutions, Pune, for ramping up production of COVID-19 diagnostic kits they have developed. The company has submitted an application in response to its invitation for proposals for technologically innovative solutions towards fighting COVID-19. Mylab Discovery Solutions is the first indigenous company to develop real-time PCR-based molecular diagnostic kit that screens and detects COVID-19 from samples of people who display flu-like symptoms. With support from TDB, they will ramp up the production of the kits through automation of the facility from a currently manual process, thereby increasing its present capacity from 30000 tests per day to one lakh tests per day. The Company is expected to complete the automation within the next few months. This kit has been approved by ICMR and CDSCO. The kit will be deployed in a very short time, considering the national emergency.
Contact Info: Cdr Navneet Kaushik, Sc-E; Technology Development Board, navneetkaushik. email@example.com
TIFAC explores best methods to revive Indian economy post COVID-19
The Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), an autonomous technology think tank of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, by virtue of its mandate of thinking for future, is preparing a white paper to strategise revival of post-COVID-19 Indian economy. This document would mainly focus on strengthening Make in India initiatives, commercialisation of indigenous technology, developing a technology-driven transparent Public Distribution System (PDS), efficient rural healthcare delivery, reduction of import, adoption of emerging technology domains like AI, Machine Learning, Data Analytics and many more. The white paper will be soon submitted to the decision-making authorities of the Government. The entire globe has come under one umbrella to fight against COVID-19. The pandemic outbreak is affecting the human life of both developed and emerging economies, with the impact spread over almost all sectors ranging from manufacturing to trade, transport, tourism, education, healthcare, and so on. The extent of the economic impact will depend on how the pandemic outbreak unfolds and also the containment strategy of any nation.
Contact Info: Nirmala Kaushik, firstname.lastname@example.org
Women in Varanasi extended a helping hand to migrant workers, villagers affected by COVID-19 pandemic
Rural Women Technology Park (RWTP) at Basani, Varanasi, supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has joined India’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by extending a helping hand to migrant workers by training and engaging women in making facemask as per WHO guidelines, distributing food as well as hand sanitizers. More than 500 masks created at the RWTP centre have been distributed among migrant labourers and tribal families in the neighbouring areas of Koiripur, Anei, Kuwar, Chanauli, and Barhi Nevada of development block Baragaon, Varanasi. The WTP staff has also distributed more than 200 food grains packs (containing 2 kg rice, 2 kg wheat and 1 kg daal) in 15 nearby villages and to the migrant workers who are most affected in this pandemic situation. Social distancing was maintained during the distribution. They also produced and distributed hand sanitizers to the migrant workers, ration and food supply distributors, and villagers to protect them from the Coronavirus.
Contact Info: Dr Indu Puri, Scientist ‘F’, DST, email@example.com
Interview of DST Secretary Prof. Ashutosh Sharma
BIG ‘DESI’ development on a rapid test for COVID-19 has now been discovered by the Thiruvananthapuram-based government Lab. They have developed a new confirmatory diagnostic test for the coronavirus that gives results in minutes. Once scaled up, this will lessen the burden of importing test kits. In a special interview with Pallava Bagla, Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary of Department of Science & Technology, talked about this very important development.
RRI scientists explain the relevance of the mathematical model
Scientists of the Raman Research Institute (RRI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, have analysed the importance of mathematical models that are being used by scientists for prediction of COVID-19 pandemic for planning future actions and the relevance of these models for the common public. RRI scientists Joseph Samuel (RRI, ICTS) and Supurna Sinha (RRI) have reached out to the common people and explained the relevance of mathematical models in decision making for citizens and policymakers who may not be from scientific backgrounds. They have addressed key questions like what one can learn from these models, how seriously they should be taken, why the predictions from different models may differ, and how these models are constructed. The article seeks to remove the confusion that may be prevailing about mathematical models due to the varied predictions they make. It also elucidates how models have been used by many countries in taking decisions. The scientists have explained that simple models can capture qualitative features well and make predictions based on the value of a few parameters (for instance, the doubling time), which can be gleaned from the past data. As the models get more 4 complicated and realistic, the number of parameters also increases. This results in a new kind of uncertainty stemming from our ignorance of a large number of parameters. Small changes in the parameters can lead to large changes in the outcomes over a period of time. For more details please contact Prof. Joseph Samuel, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: 9900130049
Indian industries respond enthusiastically to TDB's invitation for proposals for fighting COVID-19
The Indian industry and the start-up ecosystem have responded enthusiastically to the invitation by the Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), for proposals from Indian companies and enterprises for supporting technologically innovative solutions towards fighting COVID-19. TDB provides financial support to Indian companies for the commercialization of indigenous technology or adaptation of imported technology and had invited proposals on March 20, 2020, to strengthen the nation’s core capacities in fighting COVID-19. It covers key areas like surveillance, laboratory support, infection prevention and control, logistics, risk communication, and, in particular, to strengthen the capabilities in terms of isolation and management of critically ill patients for containing and preventing the spread of the pandemic.
SAMHAR-COVID-19 Hackathon under National Supercomputing Mission
Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) under the aegis of the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), a Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) and Department of Science & Technology (DST) initiative, in association with NVIDIA & OpenACC, announces the SAMHAR-COVID19 Hackathon.
Chitra GeneLAMP-N makes confirmatory tests results of COVID-19 possible in 2 hours
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, an institute of national importance, of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has developed a diagnostic test kit that can confirm COVID-19 in 2 hours at low cost. The test kit, funded by the DST called Chitra GeneLAMP-N, is highly specific for SARSCoV-2 N-gene and can detect two regions of the gene, which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread.
Women in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab prepare homemade masks for villagers to fight COVID-19
In Gugwaal Haar village situated in Hajipur Block of District Hoshiarpur, Punjab, a group of young women, are working tirelessly to safeguard their residents of their villages and those in the vicinity, vulnerable migrant workers and ration and food supply distributors from COVID 19 infections by making and distributing face masks free of cost. The group led by the village Sarpanch Sh Narinder Singh. The Punjab State S&T Council (PSCST) Chandigarh has received support from the Department of Science & Technology (DST) under the societal programme for women working on the project titled ‘Technological Empowerment of Women on Energy from Rural Biomass’ 4 (implemented in the Talwara block of district Hoshiarpur) to launch this initiative for the community in the scenario of Pandemic COVID-19.
Study to identify biomarkers to predict progression from nonsevere to severe COVID 19 cases can help interventions
The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), will support the exploration of metabolomics alteration in COVID-19 infected patients conducted by IIT Bombay in collaboration with some hospitals in Mumbai. The study will identify potential biomarker candidates to predict progression from nonsevere to severe COVID-19 conditions. Search for potential diagnostic candidates will involve metabolite profiling of different patient groups with various complications. Metabolites are small biomolecules, capable of regulating multiple pathways in all the living-organisms. Dr Sanjeeva Srivastava, Professor at IIT Bombay, with the expertise of using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry based technologies, has teamed up with Dr Om Shrivastav, Director, Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai and Dr Jayanthi S. Shastri, Professor & Head (Microbiology) T N Medical College & Nair Hospital and Dr Mala Vinod Kaneria, Infectious Disease Specialist at Kasturba, Nair & Jaslok Hospitals, for this research.
Book chapter on the structure of the coronavirus
A member of the Soft Condensed Matter group at RRI is writing a book chapter on the structure of the coronavirus. This chapter includes general morphological features as well as ultrastructural details with references to structure-function correlation and drug targeting aspects, including what is known about how hydroxychloroquine acts on the virus. This chapter will be part of a book on the coronavirus pandemic, its control and treatment as well as its social, political and economic effects on India and the world. This book caters to a niche audience that is interested in an in-depth analysis of the COVID19 situation from a detailed scientific and social perspective.
Mathematical models for spread of COVID-19: an explanation for non-scientists
Mathematical models are routinely used by scientists to describe and predict natural phenomena. For example, in the current situation, we are all exposed to predictions based on mathematical modelling of COVID 19 pandemic by experts.The predictions from these models sometimes differ widely, and it may be confusing to citizens and political leaders, who have to make important decisions based on these predictions. Thus, a popular explanation of these models may help clear the confusion and be socially useful. With this goal in mind, theorists at RRI are writing a popular article titled: “MATHEMATICAL MODELS FOR SPREAD OF COVID-19: an explanation for non-scientists”.
Integrated geospatial platform to help area-specific strategies & decisions in COVID-19 outbreak
The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has created an Integrated Geospatial Platform out of available geospatial datasets, standardsbased services, and analytic tools to help decision making during the current COVID-19 outbreak and aid devising areaspecific strategies to handle the socioeconomic impact in the recovery phase. The platform is initially expected to strengthen the public health delivery system of the State and Central Governments and subsequently provide the necessary geospatial information support to citizens and agencies dealing with the challenges related to health, socio-economic distress, and livelihood challenges. The mobile application SAHYOG as well as the web portal (https://indiamaps.gov.in/soiapp/) prepared and managed by the Survey of India (SoI) has been customized to collect COVID-19-specific geospatial datasets through community engagement to augment the response activities by Government of India to the pandemic. Information parameters required as per the Govt. of India strategy and containment plan for large outbreaks have been incorporated in the SAHYOG application. This mobile application will complement the "AAROGYA SETU" mobile application launched by the Government of India for Contact tracing, Public awareness, and Selfassessment objectives. State Spatial Data Infrastructure (SSDI) in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, and Jammu & Kashmir have been providing collateral standardsbased geospatial data services to the State and District Level authorities in the respective States through State Geoportals for integration with related health datasets towards combating COVID-19 pandemic.
Special Call under SATYAM to fight against COVID-19
Department of Science and Technology invites concept note under 'Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation (SATYAM)' for the appropriate intervention of yoga and meditation to fight against COVID-19 and other similar kinds of viruses. 3 This special call aims to provide assistance to our society in today's critical condition arising due to the pandemic COVID-19. The project may address on improving immunity, improving respiratory system, stress, anxiety, depression and others.
The concept note may be submitted at e-PMS (onlinedst.gov.in) till April 30, 2020.
Call for Expression of Interest - 2nd Set of Products
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, an institute of national importance under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, has developed designs and knowhow for several products to combat the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The institute is interested in transferring these designs and know-how to entities that can manufacture and make them available to the users. Expression of Interest (EoI) is invited from interested entities for this purpose.
Expression of Interest for developing and manufacturing devices for the fast track Programme for COVID-19 pandemic
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram invites manufacturers/startups/social groups who are interested in working with the Institute to co-develop and manufacture medical devices on a fast track mode to support the distressing situation created by the epidemic COVID 19. The call is for the development of Ambu bag-based Ventilators, Ventilator Sharing Kit, Battery-operated Assistive Breathing Unit, Isolation Pods, Disposable Safety Face Shield and Deployable Field Units.
Call for Proposals: Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks for COVID-19
The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) announces a Call for Proposals for COVID-19 Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks. IUSSTF encourages proposals that convincingly demonstrate the benefits and value of the Indo-U.S. partnership to advance research and address critical 4 challenges related to COVID-19. Virtual Networks would allow Indian and U.S. scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research to carry out joint research activities through a virtual mechanism, leveraging existing infrastructure and funding. These network projects could be of two types: Knowledge R&D Networks and Public-Private Virtual Networks.
Last date of submission: May 15, 2020
United States - India Science and Technology Endowment Fund COVID-19 Ignition Grants
IUSSTEF would select and support promising joint U.S.-India S&T-based entrepreneurial initiatives that address the "development and implementation of new technologies, tools, and systems to address COVID-19-related challenges including monitoring, diagnosis, health and safety, public outreach, information and communication". These initiatives can originate from government, academic, non-governmental or commercial entities and any combination thereof, provided they focus on applied R&D and have commercial potential. USISTEF would also consider proposals related to technologies/ products that can be re-purposed to address COVID-19 in the current scenario. USISTEF encourages projects that demonstrate a high degree of innovation leveraging advances in science and technology.
Last date of submission: May 15 2020
DST sets up task force for mapping of technologies by Start Ups on COVID-19
DST has set up a COVID 19 Task force for mapping of technologies from R&D labs, academic institutions, startups, and MSMEs to fund nearly market-ready solutions in the area of diagnostics, testing, health care delivery solutions, equipment supplies. Some of these solutions include masks and other protective gear, sanitizers, affordable kits for screening, ventilators and oxygenators, data analytics for tracking, monitoring, and controlling the spread of outbreak through AI and IOT based solutions, to name a few.
Proposals invited on COVID-19 & related respiratory viral infections
Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), an autonomous institution of the Department of Science & Technology, invites proposals as part of special call under IRHPA (Intensification of Research in High Priority Area) scheme specifically designed for COVID-19 and related respiratory viral infections to ramp up national R&D efforts for new antivirals, vaccines, and affordable diagnostics.
TDB invites technology proposals for fighting COVID 19
The Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body under Department of Science & Technology invites proposal applications from Indian companies and enterprises to address protection and home-based respiratory intervention for COVID-19 patients. The proposal may include technologically innovative solutions like low-cost masks, cost-effective scanning devices, technologies for sanitization of large areas as well as for contactless entry, rapid diagnostic kits and oxygenators, and ventilators.
DST launches nationwide exercise to map & boost Covid19 solutions with R&D, seed & scale up support
Rising to the national call to combat the public health crisis arising out of COVID-19 pandemic, the DST is synergising and consolidating the various activities carried out by the Ministry of S&T and its network of autonomous institutions and scientific bodies across the country. The solutions and novel applications to address COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges are being taken up through a three-pronged approach. These include (a) extensive mapping of solutions requiring R&D support, start-ups with viable products requiring facilitation and manufacturing support; (b) identification of market-deployable products requiring seed support and (c) support for solutions already in market but require substantial scale up to augment their manufacturing infrastructure and capabilities. The Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), an autonomous institution of the DST has already sent out a call to invite proposals as part of special call under IRHPA (Intensification of Research in High Priority Area) scheme specifically designed for COVID-19 and related respiratory viral infections to ramp up national R&D efforts for new anti-virals, vaccines and affordable diagnostic. The call which invited submissions by March 31, 2020 has garnered encouraging response from scientists across India.
Tech by Pune based Startup incubatee of Scitech Park to disinfect Maharashtra hospitals in Covid 19 fight
A technology developed under the NIDHI PRAYAS program initiated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India by an incubatee company of Scitech Park, Pune has emerged as an effective solution for India’s fight against Covid 19 by reducing the viral load of infected areas within a room significantly within an hour. Its usefulness in killing disease-causing viruses and bacteria has been scientifically tested by various globally renowned labs in different types of closed environments like houses, hospitals, schools, farms, industries, and so on. One hour of operation of Ion generator machine reduces viral load within a room by 99.7% depending on room size.
Coating developed by JNCASR may prevent transmission of infection
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institution under the Department of Science and Technology, has developed a one-step curable anti-microbial coating which, when coated on different surfaces such as textile, plastic and so on could kill a range of virus types including COVID 19. The molecules developed have an ability to chemically cross-link with different surfaces upon UV irradiation. Upon the formation of the coating, it has been shown to permeabilize the membranes of pathogens (i.e. bacteria) leading to their inactivation.
SCTIMST ties up with Wipro 3D to manufacture automated ventilators to meet COVID 19 related crisis
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an institute of National Importance of the Department of Science and Technology, has tied up with Wipro 3D, Bengaluru to jointly build up on a prototype of an emergency ventilator system based on Artificial Manual Breathing Unit (AMBU), developed by SCTIMST followed by its clinical trial and manufacture. The ventilators can help meet urgent requirements arising out of the Covid 19 related crisis that the country is facing. AMBU bag or a bag-valve-mask (BVM) is a hand-held device used to provide positive pressure ventilation to a patient who is either not breathing or who is breathing inadequately.
DST-SERB announces first set of approved projects to combat CoVID-19 & related respiratory infections
Department of Science and Technology-- Science and Engineering Board (DST-SERB) announced several special research project calls to urgently ramp up national R&D efforts against the epidemic.
The first set of 5 projects has been selected by DST-SERB, which will be supported for further development into implementable technologies. Three of these projects concern the highly important issue of antiviral and virustatic surface coating of inanimate surfaces, such as personal protection equipment (PPE); while another one deals with the identification of metabolite biomarkers in CoVID-19 infected patients enabling therapeutic target identification; and the last one concerns with the development of antibodies against the receptor-binding domain of the spike glycoprotein of coronavirus.
DST sets up rapid response centre at SINE, IIT Bombay to combat COVID-19
Department of Science & Technology, Government of India in a rapid response to combat COVID-19 global pandemic approved setting up of a Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) at a total cost of Rs 56 Cr to scout, evaluate and support the innovations and start-ups that address COVID-19 challenges. The Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), a technology business incubator at IIT Bombay supported by DST has been identified as the Implementing Agency of the CAWACH. CAWACH will identify upto 50 innovations and startups that are in the area of novel, low cost, safe and effective ventilators, respiratory aids, protective gears, novel solutions for sanitizers, disinfectants, diagnostics, therapeutics, informatics and any effective interventions to control COVID-19.
Hand sanitizer prepared by ARCI provided to police personnel on duty during COVID 19 crisis
Considering the scarcity of hand sanitizers in the market, International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad, an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, has produced hand sanitizer as per the WHO standards and distributed it among police personnel in Hyderabad, students, and staff of the institution. A team of scientists, students, and staff voluntarily came forward and produced about 40 liters of sanitizer.
Challenge COVID-19 Competition (C3)
National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India has come up with a call inviting innovative citizens to participate in its Challenge Covid-19 Competition (C3). All interested innovators are welcome to participate with their creative ideas and innovations for problems or issues like reducing transmission of Coronavirus through original creative ideas, innovations, which can supplement the efforts of the government in slowing or eliminating the spread further, innovative ideas which can make activities like sanitizing one’s hands, body, and home items etc.
Ideas are also invited for gainful engagement of people at home, healthy food for nutrition and boosting immunity specially at the time of lockdown when raw materials are limited, (Personal Protective Equipment) PPE’s and rapid diagnostic testing facilities for capacity building of healthcare and other areas.
IIT Kanpur researchers to design a cost-effective virucidal coating of surgical masks for preventive measures against COVID-19
Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body under Department of Science and Technology, is supporting a research by a team of scientists from IIT Kanpur for developing a protective coating that would greatly help in making medicated masks and medical wear (PPE) for fighting COVID-19. The researchers from the Department of Chemistry in IIT Kanpur will be designing the virucidal coating using polymers which can resist attachment of bacteria and virus. An additional protection will be included to the polymer coating using molecules that can either destabilize and/or neutralize corona viruses and other viruses like influenza. The combination of anti-microbial polymer coating and functionalized drugs is also expected to provide a synergistic antiviral effect.
DST and DBT funded startup develops silver-based disinfectant to fight COVID-19 pandemic
Weinnovate Biosolutions, a Pune based startup supported jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT), has developed a non-alcoholic aqueous-based colloidal silver solution uniquely made from its NanoAgCide technology for disinfecting hands and environmental surfaces.
The newly developed disinfectant is non-inflammable and free of hazardous chemicals and can pose as an effective sanitizer to prevent the spread of the infection through contact, the prime method of transmission of the pandemic, thereby protecting health professionals and infected people.