Home / News / India /  Govt to create innovations repository to fight pandemic

NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call on Tuesday to develop a covid-19 vaccine may have been aimed at the medical fraternity, but engineers, too, are helping in the fight against the pandemic.

Three weeks ago, the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi was facing a shortage of hand sanitizers and face masks.

“Out of frustration, I told one of our chemistry professors, why don’t you guys prepare them in IIT? Why is it such a big deal? He replied: ‘for such a small thing, you don’t need an IIT professor, it can be done by our technical staff’. Lo and behold, in flat two days, we had 50 litres of hand sanitizers meeting WHO standards," IIT-Delhi director V. Ramgopal Rao posted on social media.

IIT-D claims it has now developed a unit to produce 100,000 N95 masks and is working with the department of science on 20 projects related to the pandemic.

IIT-Bombay said on Monday it has started supplying masks to a local hospital. It has also developed a patient-tracing app. While ventilator prototypes developed by IIT-Hyderabad and IIT-Roorkee are already in the news, a covid-19 testing kit from IIT-D is also undergoing feasibility tests.

Such innovations are not confined to just premier IITs. From PPEs to ventilators, micro-fibres and methods of bio-medical segregation, the Centre is creating a repository of covid-19-related innovations at educational institutions and research centres. This will help in planning and coordination for better R&D in collaboration with businesses and arranging funding.

Human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said there will be a dashboard to monitor the initiatives. He said it intends to cover the different dimensions of covid-19 challenges in a “holistic and comprehensive way" and the ministry “can provide the necessary support system to the institutions".

Authorities said institutes will be encouraged to come up with marketable products. For example, Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has already started producing sanitizers. Suddhasatwa Basu, the director of the institute, said it has started making large quantities of sanitizers to supply to the police in Cuttack and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhubaneswar.

Sona College of Technology, a leading private engineering college in Tamil Nadu, has launched an app that the Salem district administration is using to help in tracing contacts of covid-19 patients. Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts are also evaluating it.

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