Connect with us


UV light booth, nasal gel & other innovations India’s working on to battle Covid-19




The novel coronavirus | Pixabay
The novel coronavirus | Pixabay

Text Size:

New Delhi: India is likely to soon roll out two new innovations developed by institutes under the science and technology ministry to boost the country’s capabilities in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

A UV light booth that can examine coronavirus patients without any human contact, and a fumigation chamber that disinfects people within five minutes are currently in the manufacturing phase and will likely be available for use by end of April or first week of May, said a Kerala institute that worked on the projects.

The innovations are part of the ministry’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) initiative to have institutes across the country work on solutions that improve India’s response to Covid-19.

There are more products in the pipeline, each in different stages of technology transfer. They include a 3D face shield with reusable properties, a nasal gel, and an antimicrobial surface coating that can kill the virus.

ThePrint lists six of them that are under development.

Also read: India has allocated over Rs 200 cr for new Covid-19 projects: Science secretary

UV light booth

Amid a shortage of personal protective equipment and masks, doctors across the country are contracting the infection while treating coronavirus patients.

To deal with this, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under DST in Thiruvananthapuram, has developed a UV light booth. Modelled on a telephone booth, this technology can be used to examine patients without doctors coming in direct contact with patients.

The glass chamber booth has a small opening on one side for the doctor to use a stethoscope. The doctor can also see the patient through the glass. Once the patient vacates the chamber after examination, UV lights will be turned on for three minutes to disinfect it.

The booth will be placed in hospitals.

“Providing the highest level of safeguards while interacting with carriers of highly contagious virus is priority. This booth will protect them (doctors/healthcare personnel) in treating patients. It will be placed in hospitals treating coronavirus patients,” said Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, DST.

The booth will cost around Rs 25,000 per unit. HMT Machine Tools Ltd, a public service undertaking, is currently manufacturing it.

Also read: Is coronavirus mutating in India? If yes, how? CSIR starts genetic sequencing to find out

Fumigation chambers

The science and technology ministry has approved the development of fumigation chambers, which will use hydrogen peroxide gas to disinfect people.

The chamber will be five-feet wide and seven-feet tall, and have sensors to detect the entry of a person. The disinfection will last a quick five seconds. The gas will be used under World Health Organization’s permissible limits.

“Tubes will emit puffs of hydrogen peroxide. It will not have a harmful effect on the person, it will disinfect them from other viruses also within five seconds,” SCTIMST director Asha Kishore said.

Developed by SCTIMST, the product will be commercially manufactured by HLL Infratech Service Ltd., a government undertaking. It will be used at commercial places like malls, metro entry points and educational institutes.

“This will be very useful in disinfecting people at such points where there is heavy load, like malls, hospitals, metro gates. This will secure them from virus, add extra protection,” said Sharma.

3D face shield

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)’s Central Electrochemical Research Institute, located in Tamil Nadu’s Karaikudi, is developing the shield to protect the face from coronavirus.

The mask will be reusable, and also have disinfectants inside it. Bengaluru-based Lycan 3D is developing this, said DST’s Sharma.

Also read: Trial assessing anti-clotting drug to algorithm guiding PPE use — latest on Covid-19 research

Anti-virus coating

Bengaluru’s Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute under the science and technology ministry, is developing an anti-microbial coating which can be used on surfaces, gloves, masks and clothes.

This coating can be used on plastic, PVC products and textiles. It has been developed by professor Jayanta Haldar’s team at JNCASR.

“This coating has been 100 per cent successful in influenza virus, killing them within 30 minutes of contact. It disrupts the membranes of pathogens. It will get effective in destroying Covid-19,” said Haldar.

Nasal gel

IIT Bombay is working on a gel that can be applied around the nasal passage, a common entry point for the coronavirus.

The nasal gel will have biological molecules to deactivate the trapped virus in a manner similar to that of detergents. The research team is led by professors Kiran Kondabagil and Ritni Banerjee.

“This nasal gel will provide a strong extra layer of defence in protecting our front line fight against coronavirus. Our department is funding IIT Bombay for this project,” said Sharma.

IIT Kanpur is also developing a different kind of nasal gel with DST funding, he added.

Speedy diagnostic kits

Startup FastSense Diagnostics has developed two test kits for Covid-19 with DST funding. The company is in the process of rolling out both, said Sharma.

The first product is a modified polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection kit for confirmatory analysis. The test is designed to give results in lesser time than existing methods. This will mean approximately 50 samples can be tested in an hour.

The second is a portable chip-based module with sensing technology that will provide on the spot results in less than 15 minutes. The sample size for confirmatory tests can also be increased to 100 samples per hour in the future.

The company has filed a patent for these tests.

Also read: A JNU lab is working on a revamped BCG vaccine with Covid-19 protein to fight pandemic

ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

Text Size:

Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown

ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Continue Reading