Nosch Labs, CSIR-IICT ink pact for transfer of process knowhow to make anti–COVID-19 drug 2-DG
CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and Nosch Labs have entered into a nonexclusive agreement for transfer of the process knowhow for synthesis of anti-Covid-19 drug 2-DG (2-Deoxy-D Glucose).
A press release said as per the pact signed on 11 June, Nosch Labs would commence manufacture of 2-DG drug after obtaining regulatory clearances from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). The company intends to make the drug available at an affordable price, the release said.
Srivari Chandrasekhar, Director of CSIR-IICT, said the institute has been instrumental in addressing numerous societal challenges and providing innovative solutions to Indian industries in the area of drugs and pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, lipids, catalysis, functional materials, environmental, analytical, biological and engineering sciences.
C-CAMP in collaboration with ABB Power Grids and Blackfrog Technologies develops cold chain technology for vaccine delivery
The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), in partnership with Blackfrog Technologies and Hitachi ABB Power Grids in India, will provide public healthcare systems in the Southern metros of Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Chennai with an indigenously developed, innovative, portable cold chain transport device for efficient vaccine delivery
This C-CAMP-supported innovation integrates an emerging technology in cold chain with easy accessibility and operability features that can address the critical issue of last mile vaccine spoilage due to thermal degradation in commonly used iceboxes. Having already made some inroads in remote locations of north-eastern India with the technology, the CSR grant received from Hitachi ABB Power Grids in India will help C-CAMP introduce it to urban, semi-urban and rural primary healthcare centres (PHCs) in southern India.
The innovation is a portable battery-operated medical-grade refrigeration unit whose unique selling propositions are pre-set temperatures, strict temperature-control and easy portability. Its thermoregulation properties are further boosted by advanced algorithms that have been proven to maintain a stable and uniform WHO-prescribed 2-8o C temperature environment despite heavy handling and high/low ambient temperatures.
The patented technology assures vaccine viability for up to 12 hours, which in turn guarantees efficacious vaccine administration as well as better reuse and recycling of unused vaccines from any batch. Being geolocation tagged can considerably increase flexibility, tracking and traceability in the last-mile supply chain, making it ideal for variable demand as well as remote locations. Previous smaller deployments in remote PHCs in the north-east have demonstrated maximisation of vaccine usage to 99 per cent, making it a must-have technology to help India succeed in the world’s most massive vaccination effort.
C-CAMP supported by Huawei India hands over life-saving innovations to Karnataka Government to counter COVID-19 emergency
C-CAMP has received CSR support from leading ICT solutions provider Huawei to put to use two C-CAMP marquee COVID-19 innovations. These are in the form of non-invasive ventilator devices and state-of-the-art remote vitals monitoring technologies in public health hospitals and facilities in the state of Karnataka.
In response to the massive surge of COVID-19 cases in the second wave, Huawei has partnered with C-CAMP to accelerate the facilitation of urgent medical supplies to support those most affected. The project has been fulfilled with the guidance from the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India. In a bid to further boost existing oxygen capacity, the joint initiative will also facilitate oxygen concentrators to the deployment.
C-CAMP, as a premier bio innovation hub with a decade long experience in deep tech life sciences innovation and entrepreneurship in India, is helping contribute in this hour of need by deploying and scaling up of innovative technologies to strengthen India’s public healthcare facilities. It has been joined by several other partners, both national and international, in this crucial fight back.
also happens to be one of the worst afflicted in India. As a part of this support the following three life-saving technologies will be provided to the public health facilities across the State:
1. High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Oxygen therapy system: Bangalore-based and C-CAMP portfolio start-up Coeo Labs/Innaccel Technologies’ Saans Pro CPAP and HFNC system is an all-in-one unit compatible with multiple patient interfaces, including protective continuous interfaces such as helmet/hood for CPAP.
2. Remote Vital Parameter Monitoring: Another Bangalore-based C-CAMP supported start-up Turtle Shell Technologies’ product Dozee is a contactless remote vitals monitoring and AI based triaging system that can convert non-ICU beds into step-down ICUs thereby virtually increasing ICU grade bed capacity in hospitals.
3. Oxygen Concentrators: Oxygen concentrators using pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology are a portable and cost-efficient source for providing oxygen for patients requiring medical oxygen due to low oxygen levels in their blood.
C-CAMP is augmenting Karnataka’s healthcare infrastructure for COVID-19 with support from Mercedes Benz R&D India
C-CAMP has received CSR funding from Mercedes Benz Research & Development India (MBRDI) towards deploying about 110 oxygen concentrators from Germany in public healthcare centres across Karnataka.
The effort that has been facilitated by Nayonika Eye Care Charitable Trust, the German Consulate General, Bangalore and Indian Embassy in Germany is one of the many national and international CSR fundraising initiatives being coordinated by C-CAMP to aid India’s COVID-19 response with life-saving technologies and innovations.
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, then C-CAMP CEO & Director said, “Oxygen concentrators have the potential to address the critical gap in oxygen supply that we are witnessing across India. Lives can be saved with this technology. C-CAMP is happy to contribute to Karnataka’s ongoing combat by bringing this much needed resource to the State. We are planning on collaborating with the Government of Karnataka on deployment in public healthcare centres including makeshift hospitals and COVID care facilities, which especially lack infrastructure for cryogenic oxygen.”
Given the prohibitive cost and logistics associated with liquid oxygen tankers and the dearth of pressurised medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators have emerged as a less expensive, more convenient and foolproof alternative. Oxygen concentrators concentrate the oxygen from ambient air by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched gas stream using pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology. The consignment of 110 concentrators imported by C-CAMP have been manufactured by Phillips, are lightweight, easy-to-use and low maintenance.
Speaking on the importance of such multi-partner PPP collaborations in rapid mobilisation during this time of emergency, Dr Taslim remarked that “The C-CAMP-MBRDI partnership was turned around in unprecedented urgency and definitely shows the way for greater ecosystem participation in order to bring forward more helping hands from India and abroad in this hour of need.”
C-CAMP is no stranger to multi-partner coalitions for emergency response to the pandemic. As India’s premier bio innovation hub, it has implemented, anchored and expressly mobilised three of India’s most crucial multi-partner innovation programmes, C-CIDA, N-BRIC and InDx to give teeth to the public healthcare system in the form of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccine delivery, etc.
Office of the PSA is facilitating industry contributions to boost health infrastructure by bringing in innovation in hospital construction
With a contagious disease such as COVID-19, it is essential to have smart health infrastructure to screen, contain, and treat patients. Unlike urban areas, rural areas do not have plenty of existing infrastructure that can be converted to hospitals. There, it is difficult to construct buildings from scratch as the requirement is immediate. The office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India has identified two start-ups – Modulus Housing and Picture Time Digiplex – for revving up the hospital bed infrastructure within a short period of time, across the country. The start-ups are working on two different innovative technology deliverables.
An IIT Madras-incubated start-up called Modulus Housing has developed an innovative hospital construction module to tackle the problem of quick installation and functioning of a hospital with the required facilities. The start-up has developed a portable hospital unit that can be installed anywhere within two hours by four people. Called MediCAB, it is a decentralised approach to detect, screen, identify, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients in their local communities through these portable microstructures. It is foldable and is composed of four zones – a doctor’s room, an isolation room, a medical room/ward and a twin-bed ICU, maintained at negative pressure. Modulus Housing, an early stage start-up incubated at IIT Madras partnered with a government institute, Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to develop a negative pressured four-zone medical strategy for the deployment of hospital extension to effectively arrest cross contamination.
PT Medical (PT) Solutions offer a variety of portable shelters and mobile field hospitals to enable communities and defense forces to rapidly respond to healthcare requirements and disasters in any location or terrain. Using an integrated network of rapid deployment structure systems that are flexible, sustainable and robust, it creates modular solutions to cater to a wide range of field medical applications. These technological solutions are transportable by tactical, operational and strategic mobility systems. PT Medical Solutions provides innovative end-to-end fixed hospital solutions that can be rapidly deployed in any open area or increase the capacity of an existing hospital. Covid care facilities with all support services in rapid deployment modular inflatable structures may be scaled up as per needs.
Both these start-ups are either setting up new hospitals with beds or enhancing the existing capacity of a hospital to the tune of more than 3500 beds across the country in 54 projects, facilitated by Office of the PSA and supported by various industry CSR partners.
Environment-friendly recycling technology and value addition of medical waste plastics obtained from PPE kit used during COVID-19 situation: A sustainable approach towards a healthy environment
Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology, SARP-LARPM, Bhubaneswar, in association with Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar is working on an environment-friendly recycling technology and value addition of medical waste plastics obtained from the personal protective equipment (PPE) kits used during the COVID-19 situation.
PPEs play an important role in safeguarding the health workers by minimising their exposure to the external pathogens. The components of PPE include goggles, face-shield, mask, gloves, coverall/gowns, head cover and shoe cover, etc. It is to be noted that biomedical waste is increasing drastically due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and is a big hazard to environmental health worldwide.
The objective of this project includes collection of plastics from COVID waste such as PPE kits and other biomedical items collected in red bins, their disinfection, cleaning and drying by using a selected process and their conversion into value added products for commercial application. The biomedical waste will be fully disinfected and mechanical, thermal, rheological and morphological properties of the recovered plastics will be analysed and compared with its virgin counterparts. Based on mechanical and thermal properties, a recycling blend will be developed and value addition will be performed using other additives, fillers and compatibilisers to improve mechanical and thermal properties. Finally, prototypes will be developed using value added polymers for various targeted applications.
The initiative has been supported under the Waste Management Technologies (WMT) programme of Technology Development and Transfer (TDT), Department of Science & Technology (DST).
ETA Purification has designed advanced disinfection system for healthcare settings and institutions
Coimbatore based start-up ETA Purification Pvt Ltd has designed COSMO (Complete Sterilization by Micro-plasma Oxidation), an advanced disinfection system for healthcare settings and institutions. It has been designed as per the National Public Health standards supported by the Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) programme of National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST, Government of India.
The product has the following features:
- Light-weight, mobile and easy-to-use
- No chemicals or consumables required
- Rapidly kills disease causing pathogens in the air, aerosol
- Sterilises surgical and dental tools at room temperature
- Patented technology sponsored by US-EPA
- Engineered as per WHO safety recommendations
Pune based start-up develops a bio-safety level IV portable isolation device
lvl Alpha Pvt Ltd, a defence tech start-up building wearable health and communication devices for defence tri-forces has developed a patient isolation capsule, supported in grant by Scheme for Accelerating Start-ups around Post COVID Technology - Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
Patient Isolation Capsule, a bio-safety level IV portable isolation device is CBRN grade isolation infrastructure with remote patient monitoring and sterile patient access. It is a rapidly deployable and reusable all terrain, all weather portable device for all transportation and hospitalisation needs. It has OSHA grade air circulation and up to 8 hours of battery life.
Bio-Sure C+, an integrated sample storage device for safe transportation and biomedical waste disposal
Machphy Solutions Pvt Ltd, a start-up from Bhubaneswar, is developing an integrated sample storage device for safe transportation and disposal of biomedical waste – Bio-Sure C+. It is supported by National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI) – Seed Support System.
Bio-Sure C+ is a portable unit that can be carried by healthcare workers visiting suspected patients for sample collection. It has a refrigerated chamber for holding the infected UTM tubes with patient samples at temperatures of 2-8 degrees Celsius up to 100 hours; a disposal cabinet to dispose used PPEs like gloves, masks, body covers and other bio-waste generated during the process of sample collection like swab stems, cotton balls and involved accessories; a mini toolbox for carrying useful tools frequently required during the sample collection process; and an IoT interface for data transparency with which the test results can be proven to be more credible.
NT mask developed by Comofi Medtech to protect healthcare workers during COVID-19 sample collection
For infection suspected and infected patient use, Bengaluru based start-up, Comofi Medtech Private Limited has developed NT masks. This mask shields healthcare practitioners from patient’s cough and sneeze during nasal and throat swab during sample collection. It also safeguards hospital work environment from respiratory droplets during sample collection and reduces a patient’s hand contact with mouth and nose during the procedure.
The common features of NT masks are: Minimalist design, reduced droplet exposure, optimised usability, guaranteed protection, excellent breathability and anti fog.
The initiative has been supported under the CAWACH programme by NSTEDB, DST, Government of India.
Kerala based start-up develops protective eye goggles to fight COVID-19 pandemic
The CAWACH programme by NSTEDB, DST has supported a Kerala based start-up, RMmedi Innovations Private Limited to develop protective eye goggles, which comes as part of the PPE kits at an affordable rate.
Hyderabad based start-up has developed Swaasa™ AI platform
Salcit Technologies Private Limited, a start-up based in Hyderabad has developed a patented Swaasa™ AI platform, which is a point-of-care technology to assess a user’s respiratory condition. The platform analyses cough signals, and provide an assessment using proprietary ML and AI algorithms. The platform identifies the underlying respiratory condition (yes/no), the pattern (obstructive, restrictive, mixed or normal) and its severity. It uses the cough analysis as an additional factor in risk assessment. The platform receives inputs from the mobile or web client, processes the data and returns the prediction and detailed analytics as output.
The core technology has been enhanced to provide risk assessment for COVID-19. This can be used as an auxiliary to rapid test. The technology enables a direct read into lung assessment backed by clinical validation. This platform is sound enough to achieve this functionality without the constraints of cost, location, scheduling, special equipment, and trained personnel.
The project is supported by Scheme for Accelerating Start-ups around Post COVID Technology - Ministry of Electronics and Information TechnologY (MeitY).
Udiyate Technologies has proposed respiratory assistive devices and smart sanitiser
Bhubaneswar based start-up, Udiyate Technologies Private Limited has proposed an Ambu Bag design that is well suited for ambulances, stable patients or for home based patients. To increase the reliability factor of this cheap ventilator, an innovative dual Ambu Bag based ventilator has been used that can work act both in asynchronous and synchronous manner, which means it can be independently set for two patients if patient traffic is high.
Santo is a smart sanitiser for easy misting of hands. Refill and drain sanitiser liquid with a touch of a button. The quantity of sanitiser falling on the palm can also be controlled. It has a one touch power-flush for nozzle cleaning and a smart display to show the sanitiser level to alert for a refill and also to inform the number of usages after the last refill. It is IoT and AI enabled to track and monitor usage.
StopCov smartphone application developed by MedTel Healthcare Pvt Ltd
MedTel Healthcare is bridging the medical assistance gap in this Covid crisis through an appbased platform that enables screening and monitoring aid for frontline health workers.
MedTel’s StopCov is a mobile app based COVID-19 screening and monitoring tool to enable frontline health workers to routinely report cases with COVID-19 symptoms, including general information such as the severity of the cases, age group, occupation, contact with someone with travel history to affected areas, history of chronic ailments (diabetes, hypertension, kidney diseases, weak immune systems, etc.). Presently the platform is being used in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka for COVID-19 screening and monitoring.
Social distancing is one of the ways to counter COVID-19. Since most Out Patients Departments are not functioning, this missed call based telemedicine platform with a network of more than 200 Odia speaking doctors, serve patients from remote villages of Odisha. MedTel provides more than 200 tele-consultations daily for both Covid and non-Covid related queries.
Swosth: A unified emergency response platform
Bhubaneswar based start-up, Teceads Solutions Pvt Ltd has developed a Swosth App, which is an unique and unified platform designed to handle and tackle any emergency response to any critical situation swiftly and efficiently
SWOSTH APP facilitates emergency response, digitalised health monitoring, quarantine geo-fencing, crowd control, contact tracing, digital pass for essential personnel, etc. It has customised access terminals for different service personnel depending on the type of service and accessibility such as: State administration, healthcare personnel, district administration, and police personnel.
Three-way ventilator splitter: Aerosol leakage prevention stopcock
Amid shortage of ventilators for COVID-19 patients due to rapid surge in demand, low manufacturing rate and global shutdown, researchers from Inofinity Research and Development Pvt Ltd, Bhubaneswar, have developed devices for ventilator splitting. KIMS being a major contributor for Odisha’s COVID-19 hospitals is preparing to combat the third wave, if needed.
The KIIT-TBI have developed a 3D printed ventilator splitting device, which will allow an Intensivist to use a single ventilator on two or three patients in case of exigencies. This type of a device has been allowed by US FDA for the COVID-19 pandemic. The design may raise concerns among clinicians regarding the oxygenation status and cross infection but the use of bacterial and viral filters at the expiratory wings will eliminate the risk of cross infection. Clinical parameters, arterial blood gas will help in monitoring the patients. With availability of ventilators splitting will be reversed to 1:1 ratio.
IIT Jodhpur has developed a cold plasma detergent in the environment to fight COVID-19
To reduce the risk of infection from airborne pathogens in an indoor environment, IIT Jodhpur has developed a novel cold-plasma detergent in the environment (CODE) device using dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma in combination with nanotechnology. It produces optimum concentrations of cold-plasma detergent in the environment (active negative ions) that lasts more than 25 seconds on an average, and is highly useful for better indoor air quality and also to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is able to produce plasma detergent ions with concentration varying from 300 ions/cm3 to 2,00,000 ions/cm3 and above, from an 8” inch device easily controlled by electric circuitry. The average power consumption in the discharge process of the device is also very low (< 2W). The working performance of the device has been tested for disinfection of total microbial counts, reduction of total fungal counts, dust and pollens in indoor environment of sizes more than 1,72,80,000 cm3. The obtained results show that pristine natural environment is quite realisable from the CODE device in the indoor environments. It is a low-cost, easily scalable device, and will require less maintenance.
The developed technology is attractive for individuals in offices and houses. Systems based on this technology can eventually be deployed at all public and healthcare facilities as standalone systems or can be integrated with the ducts, ACs, coolers, etc. The proposed device can also be easily tailored in the form of CODE jets to clean the environment, PPEs, dresses, face masks, etc. for safe handling of patients by doctors.
Smart health solutions for rapid mass diagnosis for COVID-19, funded by DST-RAKSHAK
DST-Remedial Action, Knowledge Skimming and Holistic Analysis of COVID-19 (RAKSHAK) funded IIT Jodhpur to develop a telemedicine system that allows clinicians to remotely interact with patients and other doctors. A specialist can provide consultancy via video conferencing services integrated with electronic healthcare records management. It handles non-emergency cases immediately.
An AI-powered telemedicine system can bring a paradigm shift in the currently known methods and benefits of telemedicine. Continuously evolving ML algorithms and increasing computational power have made real-time data analysis possible. Big data is an important attribute of the proposed telemedicine system. It includes radiological data such as CT and X-ray images, digitised pathological, clinical, and occupational data, etc. AI algorithms are used to extract relevant information from these datasets to build diagnosis and prognosis models to assist the doctors remotely interacting with patients.
This project aims towards (i) a tailored made solution for providing tele-health solutions based on the existing solutions for screening of COVID-19 suspects, (ii) deployment of multiple kiosks at COVID-19 hotspot areas, and (iii) AI-based model development and enhancement for sensor data analytics for COVID-19 screening.
Non-invasive estimation of care – body temperature, heart rate, SPO2 for classification of subject as healthy or non-healthy
This project is to find non-invasive estimation of vital physiological-parameters such as core body temperature (despite ambient temperature), heart rate, respiration rate, blood-oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) from thermal and RGB videos, towards classification of individuals as ‘healthy’ or otherwise.
Given the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, this technology is envisioned to be of use in the preliminary screening/monitoring of individuals at entrance points, critical habitation zones, in-patient wards, homes for the elderly and other such areas. While the core body temperature would indicate the presence of fever-like symptoms, irrespective of the environmental temperature, the other parameters would help identify (apparently asymptomatic) individuals suffering from silent hypoxia (abnormally low levels of oxygen in the blood with no external manifestation) – one of the primary symptoms of COVID-19.The initiative has been supported by DST-RAKSHAK.
Richa Singh and team received the RAKSHAK grant for project on ‘AI-driven diagnosis of COVID-19 using X-ray images’
In the face of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, it has become essential to perform mass screening and testing of patients. Richa Singh and her team have developed an AI-driven diagnosis of COVID-19 using X-ray images. The project has been supported by DST-RAKSHAK.
X-rays are amongst the most popular, cheap and widely available imaging technology across the world, and can be used to detect COVID-19 pneumonia in patients through chest radiographs. Experiments conducted on different chest radiograph datasets with multi-task deep network algorithm, learns the abnormalities present in the chest X-ray images to differentiate between a COVID-19 affected lung and a non-COVID-19 affected lung.
DST-RAKSHAK has funded IIT Jodhpur for campus RAKSHAK project
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a massive burden on the public health system. Restrictions to contain the COVID-19 spread have come with significant cost to livelihoods and have created massive disruptions in education. In view of this, and to recover from the impact, colleges and university campuses partially reopened just before the March 2021 surge with safe operating procedures put in place. In this context, it is important to have dashboard frameworks for situational awareness and frameworks of testing, contact tracing, computational epidemiology that can enable bio-surveillance and swift remedial actions in case of outbreaks. The population in large campuses is in thousands. The student community may be predominantly residential, some staff may reside on campus, but staff, students, contractors, and vendors move in and out of large campuses with the potential risk of spreading the infection. There is, thus, a need for a decision support framework that can assist campus administrators to decide on the safe levels of operation.
The campus RAKSHAK solution framework, as a contact-tracing, bio-surveillance, scenario exploration, and decision support platform, can provide situational awareness to campus administrators, generate connectivity, mobility, hotspot insights, save testing costs, explore scenarios for safe operation and assist campus administrators with their decisions. It is important that all these components work together as a harmonious whole for maximum effectiveness.
Social distance alert and monitoring system using a smartphone, IoT and AI
The increased number of COVID-19 patients in various parts of the country poses challenges for medical professionals, related to focused health monitoring and care for critical cases. IIT Jodhpur has indigenously designed a prototype wristband that will create a sound alarm if two such bands come close to each other. The band works on 2.4 GHz radio frequency and contains a RFID trans-receiver, a microcontroller and lithium battery. It also includes a BLE chip, which helps in transferring the contact graph to any connected mobile phone. It weighs about 30gms. The work has been supported by RAKSHAK scheme of DST
Long-term outcome of infants born to COVID-19 positive mothers: A prospective cohort study jointly conducted by IIT Jodhpur and AIIMS, Jodhpur
Abundant research has been carried out to define the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of SARS-COV-2 infection among adult population. However, very little is known about the perinatal aspects of COVID-19 especially during the second wave, which has crippled the entire world and more so our own country. Moreover, no one knows the long-term outcome of the infants born to COVID-19 positive mothers. Therefore, they planned to assess the incidence and long-term outcome of infants born to COVID-19 mothers.
The project is supported by DST-RAKSHAK.
AIOT based bed occupancy detection in a hospital set-up developed by IIT Jodhpur
Automated detection of bed occupancy has been useful to many applications including remote healthcare, elderly monitoring, fall detection, home automation, assisted and ambient living and so on. The existing IoT based solutions for bed occupancy detection vary with respect to cost, accuracy and scalability. This is an engineering problem having specific focus on the choice of instruments, deployment strategy and approaches used for data collection and occupancy detection. In a typical hospital set-up, the problem adds a few additional dimensions in terms of safety, scalability and administrative functionality.
Jodhpur City Knowledge and Innovation Cluster support the project. In this project, the team has designed a low-cost AIOT based solution for bed occupancy detection problems in a hospital set-up and plan to demonstrate the solution’s effectiveness by deploying a small prototype in the local hospitals.
IIT Jodhpur develops face mask detection for COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing face masks has become mandatory in public places worldwide. Face masks occlude a significant portion of the facial region. Additionally, people wear different types of masks, from simple ones to ones with graphics and prints. In countries like India, with attire diversity, people are not limited to wearing traditional masks but also clothing like a ‘gamcha’ (a thin cotton printed towel), ‘stoles’, and ‘handkerchiefs’ to cover their faces. IIT Jodhpur has designed a machine learning algorithm for mask detection, which efficiently detects different kinds of masks in an unconstrained environment. They are currently working towards recognising the person in the presence of a mask. They have also prepared a novel Indian Masked Faces in the Wild (IMFW) dataset, which will be released to the community to promote further research in this area – http://iab-rubric.org/.
Food packets/ products sterilisation using UV light to fight COVID-19
IIT Jodhpur has developed an advanced photocatalytic oxidation conveyor system (APCOC) for sterilisation of surfaces, such as food packets, books, mobile phones, laptops, carry bags, courier bundles, etc. This technology can also be used on some of the thick peel food items, leather items, during the packaging of herbs and seeds, etc. and may reduce the number of complete wash downs required during processing, thereby saving resources, such as water, chemicals, and energy costs. The developed sterilisation method is a substitute for traditional chemicals and scrubbing agents, which will be highly useful for the general public during the pandemic particularly at public places, such as airports, railways, healthcare facilities, college and university libraries, shopping malls, commercial buildings, public buildings, etc. This APCOC system mitigates cross-contamination concerns and is able to sterilise items via a dry process even in the shadow regions.
The technology is based on a hybrid process where UV-C light and its photons interaction with nanoparticles catalyst provides an opportunity to generate hydroxyl radicals, hydro peroxides and super oxide ions that eventually lead to enhance the inactivation process of bacteria and viruses. In the general UV-C light-based sterilisation process, shadow effects are more critical to be dealt with because light always travels in a straight path. However, in this developed advanced process, the lipid peroxidation can produce transient pores (through abstraction of H-atoms from hydroxyl radicals) for wall rupture of viruses. Therefore, the proposed methodology can be more effective for the disinfection process.
IIIT-Delhi in collaboration with CSIR-IGIB and IIT-Delhi has developed an AI/ML model for genomic surveillance of COVID-19
AI/ML in healthcare, an NDHM compliant platform for interoperable data exchange, diagnostics, and infodemic management solutions, has successfully created deployable solutions for COVID-19 including AI/ML models for genomic surveillance of the pandemic.
The overarching goal of this theme is to enable a transformative change in healthcare through artificial intelligence and machine learning collaborations for (i) targeted public health challenges and epidemiological surveillance, (ii) data, modelling, and predictive models, (iii) digital tools, apps, and platforms including conversational AI, and (iv) diagnostic and prognostic solutions using computational and biotechnological solutions. The key projects being implemented under this theme include: (i) artificial intelligence models to enable genomic surveillance for pandemics, (ii) a platform for clinical data exchange, and collaboration, (iii) DNA sequencing for genomic surveillance for COVID-19, and (iv) development of large scale and rapid diagnostics for COVID-19. The activities of this theme are being carried out in two phases. Over a period of one year, phase I operationalises the cluster with thematic solutions for the ongoing COVID-19 challenge. Phase II will target the deployment of a suite of COVID-19 solutions in partnership with industry and development solutions for health challenges beyond the pandemic. These would include AI/ML based solutions for tackling tuberculosis, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and rare neurological diseases. The theme is embedded into the health ecosystem with key partnerships with health institutions, industry, and think tank organisations including AIIMS New Delhi, Maulana Azad Medical College, Max Hospitals, Google Research India, and the World Economic Forum.
Studies on immunological, nutritional and comorbidity factors impacting response to infection and vaccination
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pune has been one of the worst hit cities in the world. The total number of coronavirus positive patients to date (as on 9 May 2021) has reached 4,46,564 of which 4,05,474 have been cured while 7358 have died. There are still 33,732 active patients undergoing treatment in various hospitals. Pune has, thus, been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic. During the beginning of the pandemic, Pune city, managed by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), successfully initiated and maintained a Government mandated data compilation from clinic and hospital-level data at the city level. The PMC and Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC) entered into a collaborative agreement in April 2020 to develop and implement local policies based on the analysis of COVID-19 patient level data. The major activities of this collaboration included curation of the data, analysis of the data at sub-region level called Prabhags, modelling of the data to project the pandemic curve, constitution of a project to assess the prevalence of positive serology among the population and coordination for resource procurements and allocation.
The PKC (www.pkc.org.in) is funded by the cluster initiative of the office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India. The studies outlined here, however, can easily be scaled up across various regions of the country, which will generate public health data of enormous value for immediate policy decisions to address the current pandemic and also for the future.
Differences in the scale of the infection spread and severity of the clinical outcomes of infection highlight the importance of framing policies and strategies to fight the pandemic, both in the short-term and the long-term, based on ground level data and scientific investigations of the infectivity of the virus and immune response of infected people. Detailed studies on both the viral pathogen and host factors are key to understand and control the pandemic, prevent loss of lives, and reduce long-term health impact. Viral genome sequencing (as the infection spreads across diverse human populations and as they are vaccinated) and immunotyping of populations based on immune response to infection and vaccination need to be taken up immediately on a war footing. In addition, factors such as nutritional diversity among the populations and other co-morbidities that impact the risks of severe disease need to be studied in more detail. Such studies have minimal epidemiological and public health value unless they are designed based on ground level granular data on the pandemic since its beginning.
Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 using wastewater in Bengaluru city
Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) manages wastewater systems through more than 25 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and supplies treated water for irrigation, industrial use, and recharging of urban lakes (https://www.bwssb.gov.in). National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is currently engaging with BWSSB for regular sampling of non-treated, treated, and sludge samples from different STPs. These samples are to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNAs using standard qRT-PCR and also to be used for standardising and optimising other novel methods. A formal memorandum of understanding is in place between NCBS and BWSSB to perform the above mentioned activities.
Wastewater epidemiology is a powerful tool to understand the dynamics of not just SARS CoV-2 but many other emerging pathogens. In addition to detecting the SARS CoV-2 genome, this study would identify variants circulating in the populations. Repeated sampling at regular intervals would help track emerging variants and their dynamics over time. This information can be correlated with the clinical data from the catchment area. Besides, prevalence information would actively be used as an indicator of infection load and the health status of the catchment area population. By actively engaging with BWSSB, NCBS hopes to build capacity at BWSSB to implement wastewater epidemiology for public health purposes. This collaborative effort would strengthen knowledge on the impact of COVID-19 in the city and build the capabilities of both institutions − BWSSB and NCBS − to understand and manage wastewater in Bengaluru city better.
Rapid response in a pandemic through genomic surveillance of SARSCoV-2 genomes
SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a pandemic that has gripped the entire world since November 2019. Several countries throughout the world have been through waves and troughs of infection. Through these difficult times, science-based response remains at the forefront of what we can do. The aim is to work at this science-based pandemic response interface. Genomic surveillance of the virus as it evolves and changes are critical for vaccine calibration due to the generation of variants. Such surveillance remains poor in India, despite interest and some level of national investment in such an endeavour. This is particularly true in the context of vaccination. While vaccine breakthrough is now recognised as most significant, the genomic characteristics of the virus that allows it to breakthrough depend on adequate genomic surveillance. The proposal addresses the genomics and immunology of vaccine breakthrough, correlated with disease severity in multiple geographies in India − Vellore in Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru in Karnataka − by creating and building on existing infrastructure and cohorts set-up during this on-going pandemic. This will be coordinated and executed by some of the best hospitals (CMC, Vellore, Baptist Hospital and St Johns Research Institute) and most accomplished institutes like DBT’s inStem and TIFR-NCBS in the country.
A pan-national effort on enhanced viral surveillance to better track COVID-19 and vaccinations in India: The second wave and beyond
Pathogens like viruses have short generation times and high reproductive rates. This allows them to evolve or change very rapidly. SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the on-going pandemic of COVID-19, mutates and changes continuously as it transmits from person to person. While most new mutations or changes are of little to no consequence, others are able to transmit better, escape existing immunity, dodge detection by diagnostic kits, or have serious clinical impacts. Continuous and on-going genome sequencing of the virus and genomic surveillance help better understand how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving. Such sequencing will eventually allow us to mitigate the risks posed by the ever-changing genomic landscape of the virus, particularly making course correction to vaccination strategies. Furthermore, genomics coupled with host serum analyses can help to explain why people respond to COVID-19 in different ways, therefore helping to identify and better protect those at greater risk of the severe disease.
Genomic surveillance for both retrospective and prospective (future infections), when coupled with clinical data, allow us to infer correlations between viral mutations and patient outcomes. All centres will work with their respective states and clinical partners, who have access to epidemiological clinical data on disease outcomes. Such analyses will allow understanding the role of virus evolution in disease burden. Patient genomics can help identify individual-specific responses and correlations.
From a practical perspective, the only way forward is vaccination. Vaccine breakthrough, when vaccinated people get infected, is now recognised as significant. The genomic characteristics of the virus that allow it to breakthrough also require adequate genomic surveillance.
1. Retrospective genomic surveillance: Genome sequencing of archived samples representing dynamics of the pandemic (high vs. low incidence zones; asymptomatic/mild vs. severe symptoms/mortality; paediatric/young age vs. old age infections, etc.).
2. Prospective genomic surveillance: Genome sequencing to i) track variant emergence and transmission using sampling strategies defined by sociodemographics; ii) reconstruct epidemiologic history using both phylogenetic analysis and gene genealogy; iii) characterise and draw inferences from clinical phenotypes including vaccine breakthroughs, re-infections, and others; and iv) conduct environmental surveillance (of sewage and wastewater), potential to complement human surveillance and support of early interventions (considering large proportion of infected people are asymptomatic).
3. Build human resource: Bioinformatics and genomic epidemiology training for pathogen genomics across institutions and platforms. Adopt evolving technology for sequencing, analyses and rapid identification of viral variants, build workflows, use of pipelines, quality checks, data validation and approaches to rapid/real-time data sharing.
4. Applied science: Use of sequencing data to inform and support evaluations relevant to public health, vaccines, drug development and clinical prediction.
Partners, such as Pune Knowledge Cluster (coordinator representing CSIR-NCL, IISER Pune, SPPU, NCCS, BJMC, AFMC, KEM and Symbiosis Hospitals), CCMB, NCBS, InStem, St. Johns Hospital, Baptist Hospital, NIMHANS, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board, and CMC Vellore are among those whose objectives of success include the well-being and health of the greater populace.
CSIR and Tata MD partner to make COVID-19 detection more accessible across India by harnessing network of CSIR labs
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India’s apex scientific research organisation and Tata MD, the new healthcare venture from the Tata Group have announced a significant partnership to ramp up the COVID-19 testing capacity across Tier II and III towns as well as rural areas across India. CSIR and Tata MD are developing this capacity to manage any future surge in the COVID-19 testing requirements.
The initiative will utilise CSIR’s network of labs across India and help increase India’s testing capacity in smaller locations in the country. CSIR and Tata MD will jointly develop the testing capacity, and the RT-PCR CRISPR test will be done using the Tata MD CHECK SARS-CoV-2 test kits that are powered by FELUDA technology from CSIR-IGIB.
“Apart from vaccination, rapid testing and isolation of SARS-CoV-2 positive persons has emerged as the best strategy in combating COVID-19. This initiative in partnership with Tata MD to deploy the RT-PCR CRISPR test across multiple CSIR labs spread across the country is an important step. This will augment the national capacity to test for COVID and detect it locally,” said Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director General, CSIR.
Tata MD is also deploying a proprietary 3-room design mobile testing lab that can conduct endto-end, on-site COVID-19 testing to increase the testing capacity in the state.
“By partnering with CSIR’s network of labs and deploying fully equipped mobile laboratories, we are confident that we can quickly augment testing capacity using faster and scalable methods. This will significantly enhance the ability of state and district administrations to ensure wider availability and easier access to testing on an on-going basis,” said Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO and MD of Tata Medical and Diagnostics.
Significantly, 13 CSIR labs have been engaged in carrying out RT-PCR testing during the COVID-19 pandemic and this partnership between CSIR and TATA-MD is aimed at expanding the testing capacity further over the next few months by deploying the TATA-MD CHECK testing via the vast network of 37 CSIR labs spread across the country from CSIR-IIIM in Jammu in North to CSIR-NIIST in Thiruvananthapuram in South and CSIR-CSMCRI, Bhavnagar in West to CSIR-NEIST Jorhat in North-East
The first CSIR lab to go live with Tata MD is located at CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Commenting on the development, Dr Anjan Ray, Director CSIR-IIP, said, “We are happy that CSIR-IIP is the first CSIR lab to launch this initiative and the current testing capacity will be 800 daily tests that can be scaled up using the Tata MD CHECK automation solution if demand rises significantly.”
Tata MD provides an end-to-end and reliable COVID-19 testing solution in following versions:
- Tata MD CHECK SARS-CoV-2 test: A paper strip-based RT-PCR CRISPR test powered by FELUDA from CSIR-IGIB, which has been approved by ICMR and is simple with high accuracy and requires standard laboratory equipment like thermocyclers
- Tata MD Automated testing solution: Tata MD CHECK Automated testing solution can increase testing capacity by thousands with no cross-contamination. The solution can be deployed in an existing NABL II-approved molecular laboratory as well as Tata MD mobile testing labs
- Tata MD Mobile Testing Labs: Tata MD is also deploying a proprietary 3-room design mobile testing lab, the lab built in partnership with Lowe’s & United Way and fabricated by ShanMukha MIT can conduct end-to-end, on-site COVID-19 testing to increase the testing capacity in the state
CSIR in partnership with Laxai Life Sciences received regulatory approval to undertake clinical trials with Colchicine on COVID-19 patients
Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Laxai Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd. Hyderabad have been given the regulatory approval by DCGI to undertake a two-arm phase-II clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug Colchicine in improvement of clinical outcomes during the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The partner CSIR institutes in this important clinical trial are the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad and CSIRIndian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu
Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director General of CSIR, expressed his happiness on the approval granted to conduct the clinical trial on this approved drug used for treating gout and related inflammatory conditions. Dr Ram Vishwakarma, Advisor to the DG-CSIR highlighted that colchicine in combination with standard of care will be an important therapeutic intervention for COVID patients with cardiac co-morbidities and also for reducing proinflammatory cytokines, leading to faster recovery. A number of global studies have confirmed now that cardiac complications during the course of COVID-19 infections and post-COVID syndrome are leading to loss of many lives, and it is essential to look for new or repurposed drugs.
Dr S. Chandrasekhar (Director CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad) and Dr D.S. Reddy (Director, CSIR-IIIM, Jammu), the two partner institutes from CSIR, said that they are looking forward to the outcome of this Phase II clinical efficacy trial on Colchicine, which may lead to life-saving intervention in the management of hospitalized patients. India is one of the largest producers of this key drug, and if successful, it will be made available to the patients at an affordable cost..
Emergency options for medical oxygen storage and alternative mode of oxygen generation – Efforts by Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE) & Interventions from Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser
The on-going second wave of the pandemic required urgent actions towards enhancing the country's oxygen generation and distribution capacity. Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE) has made sincere efforts towards contributing to the requirement, focusing on agility, indigenisation aligned to Atmanirbhar Bharat, quality and cost competitiveness. The second wave of the pandemic is more infectious, causing an increase in oxygen demand for critically ill patients. An extreme urgency was felt to boost up alternative ways of localised medical oxygen generation and bottling. Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser has coordinated these efforts for a broader ecosystem to be aware and leverage these concepts and solutions to mitigate the oxygen crisis, with a sincere aim to benefit various MSME, states, and other central agencies.
The significant efforts taken towards meeting the demand and bridging the supply gap are as follows:
• Conversion of cylinders such as CO2, CNG, LPG, etc., with suitable precautions, colourcoding and planning for gaseous oxygen distribution across the country leveraging the existing LPG bottling and distribution network and using modular COVID units. The concept is under consideration with Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO). This is over and above the approvals granted by PESO already related to the conversions of Nitrogen, Inert gas cylinders and LNG tankers for LOX.
• Conversion of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Nitrogen plant to PSA Oxygen plants: The idea behind the conversion was to leverage existing available infrastructure. This concept was piloted with IIT Bombay and was worked with CPCB & CSIR for rollout and scaling up.
• Rollout of an open-source oxygen concentrator design for use by start-ups, entrepreneurs and MSME across India for oxygen generation by using such concentrators.
• In-house efforts leveraging open-source design were accomplished in five working days, with almost all local parts, with benchmark results of up to 20 LPM with 90-94% oxygen concentration.
Here is the brief report on efforts taken up by Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE) to meet the demand and enabling last-mile oxygen distribution and supply chain logistics.
Website Links & References:
PSA Nitrogen Plant conversion:
Portable Oxygen Concentrator:
Office of PSA calls for philanthropic funding for National Consortium of OXYGEN
Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India calls for private sector companies, donor organizations and individuals to join India’s fight against COVID-19 by providing philanthropic funding to support the National Consortium of OXYGEN (O2 TO INDIA). The consortium is looking forward to providing immediate to short-term relief and working on building the manufacturing ecosystem and healthcare infrastructure for the long run. These funds may be used for producing medical oxygen for various health facilities in India, including Army hospitals, Government hospitals and Charity hospitals through an initiative called ‘Project O2’. Medical oxygen is on high priority, so while companies are airlifting few supplies, we should be prepared for the pandemic that is expected to last for the next several years and 3rd and 4th waves are expected in the coming months. This needs immediate and short term ramp-up of our logistics as well as production capacities.
This entails manufacturing raw material currently being imported from China and other places; some are delayed, and costs are unaffordable. There is a need to support the fast-paced evaluation of quality manufacturers, scale up their capacity, address logistics challenges, enable supplies to extended/make-shift hospitals, and strengthen R&D and innovation for future pandemics. To execute this project, Office of the PSA is facilitating at the national level supply of critical raw materials such as zeolites, setting up small oxygen plants, manufacturing compressors and final products, quality oxygen cylinders, concentrators and ventilators. The manufacturing and supply consortium includes Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Skanray Technologies, IIT Kanpur, C-CAMP Bengaluru, IIT Delhi, Venture Center Pune, IIT Bombay, IIT Hyderabad, IISER Bhopal and 40+ MSMEs. A committee of key experts has been evaluating from a pool of Indian manufacturers, start-ups and MSMEs (in partnership with FICCI, MESA, etc.) producing medical oxygen and other critical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators and oxygen cylinders.
A robust evaluation committee with both subject matter experts from IITs and manufacturing companies has been set up and it will be continuously evaluating the oxygen manufacturing companies on an on-going basis and adding to the consortium. Quality cannot be compromised, and hence this system has been put in place. Simultaneously, a TCS logistics and inventory management portal has been provided pro bono to the office of the PSA for managing quality covid relief will be used. VIGYAN PRASAR 14 Anyone could support the initiative by funding:
1) Research on variants and calibration of vaccines based on variants identified and
2) Start-ups, BEL, ECIL, MSMEs, Start-ups setting up and manufacturing oxygen equipment, extension hospitals by placing advance orders directly.
Office of the PSA aims to facilitate providing proposals approved by an expert committee and/ or one can also fund the PSUs directly as they have 45 MSMEs under their supply chain.
Please write back for any clarification:
Project Lead: Mr Vibhor Bansal, Vibhor.email@example.com
Project Lead CSR/Philanthropy: Mr Bhanu Prabhakar, bhanu.prabhakar[at]investindia[dot]org[dot]in