IITs Contributions: Beating the Crisis with Innovations

Crisis spurs innovation! It did so in the aftermath of 1918 flu pandemic, and you can bet on a repeat. For example, use of the electron microscope clarified whether the 1918 flu virus was a chemical or a protein, a small, significant step.

 

The path from virus to vaccine is paved with  a variety of tools and technology that accelerate discoveries and  solutions to vanquish this global enemy.  And that’s where the global IIT community, well-equipped with a perspective spanning continents is making the mark! Our fight is on several fronts – life-saving prevention, testing, care and recovery on the tactical front, and the all-important R&D front. Outstanding work from IITs has made impact in each of these areas.

 

Read the  a set of compelling stories to inspire and spark engagement. By no means, is this comprehensive coverage. As you can imagine, the inter-disciplinary mingling that IITs enable has the potential for breakthroughs (unlike pureplay scientific or engineering places of learning and research).

Prevention

The Business incubator at IIT Roorkee came up with a microwave oven sized UV-C light-based sanitizer. This could soon be a permanent fixture at your doorstep, just like the doorbell! IIT Roorkee has also developed low-cost Ventilator Prana-Vayu with state-of-the-arts features.

IIT Gandhinagar has developed AI-based deep learning tool to detect COVID-19 from chest X-rays and also dashboard to help contain community infection.

Testing and Isolating

Testing is critical to quarantining and the proverbial curve-flattening. IIT Kharagpur researchers are working on several technologies, including design and development of the rapid diagnostic kit, real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, bodysuit for COVID-19 patients, personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and portable shredder integrated with sterilizer, Hazardous Material Suit with forced purified and cooled air circulation for medical professionals, bootstrapping Ambu-bag as an automated ventilator, telemedicine for fighting the viral pandemic, large scale production of recombinant proteins for vaccine and testing, among others.

IIT Madras-backed startup, Muse Wearables, is developing novel, mass-producible, and reusable methods for coating cloth with nanoparticles-based antimicrobial agents that can deactivate the virus on contact. These coated cloth are  effective for up to 60 wash cycles and can be primarily used to manufacture N95 masks, surgical masks, PPE and food packaging bags. Another IIT Madras-supported startup 'MediCab'  develops portable hospital units with a doctor's room, an isolation room, a medical room and an ICU.

IIT Kanpur has multiple projects going on in parallel - Contact tracing and fake news verification App, Alternative to current Surgical and N-95 masks, Protective Equipment Kits, Human Disinfection Chambers, HITES - handheld Infrared thermometer for socially distant temperature scanning and more.

IIT Hyderabad is tackling the cost of COVID-19 screening with a test-kit equivalent to feeding a family of five ($8.00) and results in 20 minutes. 

Care and Recovery

Florence Nightingale invented a system of receiving patients and allocating scant resources where they are needed most, the triage process. Bringing that to the digital age is IIT Bombay’s COVID-19 Medical Inventory management and forecasting system. This includes inventory for intensive, acute supportive care requirements. Forecasts are based on an adaptive algorithm that computes trends based on current data. Forecasts included ICU beds forecasting. 

 

Mobile phones are ubiquitous. At IIT Bombay, students built an application called Corontine. Using geo-fencing, it alerts specialists if a carrier moves out of an isolation zone.

 

IIT-BHU has begun to repurpose drugs from DrugBank for Covid-19. develops tool to detect early symptoms of Covid-19. A startup group of IIT-BHU, Mediport, has developed a Covid pre-screening tool that works in no-contact and non-invasive way.

 

Research and Development

It is evident that beating the virus is interdisciplinary, yet computers have the advantage of modelling and simulating other sciences. IIT Delhi has magnanimously thrown open its high-performance computing (HPC) computing resources to researchers working on the Covid epidemic. This includes identifying potential drug molecules against the novel coronavirus, massive database searches to repurpose existing drugs, and multi-patient ventilator design. The computing resources include a 184-node heterogeneous compute cluster made available for six months.

IIT Guwahati has initiated an effort to develop technology and products related to COVID-19. Projects span from detection to disease prediction to solving migration problems. 

More notable work includes IIT Bhubaneshawar's Development of a Patient Responsive Active Assist coNtrol (PRAAN) Ventilator, UVC Disinfection Cabinet and IIT Ropar's Low-cost Ambu-bag Attachment for Rapid Mass Emergency Deployment as a Ventilator - AARMED and many more. 

To be sure, the fight is global, no region has a monopoly on innovation, yet a large swath of the population are pinning their hopes on us IITians, so let’s do our part. 

 

Take a small step that you can. Make a small difference that you can.

Inspire and be inspired!

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