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IITs to adopt self-made coronavirus testing for mass screening at campuses

A medic wearing a PPE prepares to collect samples for Covid-19 tests at Kalasipalya police station, in Bengaluru (PTI)Premium
A medic wearing a PPE prepares to collect samples for Covid-19 tests at Kalasipalya police station, in Bengaluru (PTI)

  • A panel of five IIT directors has prepared a way forward report and have laid down the rules for the entire IIT system to follow
  • They will coordinate with Union health authorities for facilitating pool testing, a move that could help cut cost for testing

NEW DELHI : Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), will adopt the ICMR approved covid-19 testing kit developed by IIT Delhi, for mass screening of students and staff before resuming classroom teaching.

The country’s premier engineering institutions will also use self-made personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and technological solutions to deal with the covid-19 crisis as they seek to control cost, promote innovation and become self-reliant.

A panel of five IIT directors -- from both older and new generation -- has prepared a way forward report and have laid down the rules for the entire IIT system to follow. They will coordinate with Union health authorities for facilitating pool testing, a move that could help cut cost for testing.

“IIT Delhi will facilitate for an adoption and implementation of cheaper covid-19 testing kit, developed by IIT Delhi. The probe free RT-PCR kit is already approved by Indian Council of Medical Research and licensed to six companies," the IIT directors’ panel has said in their report.

“The expected per test cost will be in the range of 600-800…Pool testing is preferred for large communities," they added in the report, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

IIT Delhi director V. Ramgopal Rao said their testing kit will be ready for use in a month’s time and they are working with their licensed partners, and when students come back to the campus.

The testing kit developed by IIT Delhi will be more affordable and easily scalable. It has already received financial backing from Microsoft India.

As per the IIT director panel report, a partnership with national level pathological laboratories may be adopted to execute the cheaper testing of IIT community members -- students, staff and faculty in the respective cities. IITs across country have a student base of 80,000 besides thousands of faculty memers and support staff.

Many IITs have developed a variety of PPEs and other technologies for fighting covid-19 which must be put to use as much as possible in our fight against covid-19. From ventilators to mask, whole body suits to patient tracing apps, micro-fibres and methods of bio-medical segregation, the premier tech schools have been developed by the premier tech schools and are either licensed to industry partners for market ready products or are in the process of licensing.

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