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A doctor conducts a swab test for coronavirus in India (Photo: AP)
A doctor conducts a swab test for coronavirus in India (Photo: AP)

IIT Alumni Council to set up mega lab in Mumbai with testing capacity of 10 mn per month

To set up the labs, the IIT Alumni Council has consulted several domain experts from virology, RTPCR machine manufacturing, test kits, pooling algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and microfluidics

IIT Alumni Council will set up a massive genetic testing lab, MegaLab, in Mumbai for covid-19 and other infectious diseases. It will have a capacity of 10 million RT-PCR tests per month. The IIT body will start identifying partners to run these labs through a global competition.

To set up the labs, the council has consulted several domain experts from virology, RTPCR machine manufacturing, test kits, pooling algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and microfluidics.

“MegaLab will be based on the end-to-end Kodoy indigenous technology stack and will have adequate capacity for testing the entire population of Mumbai for infectious diseases, once a month," Ravi Sharma, President, IIT Alumni Council said in a press statement.

RT-PCR test is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in upper and lower respiratory specimens collected from people showing symptoms of covid-19.

The Kodoy Stack is an end-to-end technology stack for molecular diagnostic laboratory. It can be a large central laboratory where millions of tests can be performed every month, a point of care location such as a clinic with few daily test requirements or a moving vehicle such as a test bus. The stack relies on self extraction of samples by a patient and uses a RTqPCR machine and test kit.

Following the announcement on March 25, the IIT Alumni council formed a covid-19 taskforce with K Vijay Raghavan as chairman and 20 IIT Directors as its members. The taskforce later branched out to form multiple working groups with more than 1,000 IIT alumni across the world to find and create solutions to control the disease.

IIT Alumni Council has been instrumental in setting up digital X-Ray systems at Poddar Hospital in Mumbai to successfully detect covid-19 using AI. They also teamed up with NSCI to set up India's first covid-19 test bus in Mumbai.

After the cases started to increase in India and the lockdown was declared, various IITs and alumni bodies came forward with their low cost innovations to protect caregivers, spray disinfectants or to make ventilators accessible to more patients.

In April students at IIT (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad used 3d printing to create multiple channel adaptor which would allow a ventilator to be used for up to 4 patients simultaneously.

A IIT Delhi alumni start-up Vehant technologies has developed a camera that can detect face masks, distance between people and body temperature and alert authorities in case of a violation.

Another start-up Muse Wearables, which was incubated at IIT-Madras, has created an equipment to apply nanoparticles-based antimicrobial agents on textiles to kill the virus on contact. The coating can withstand 60 wash cycles and can be used to make face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and bags free from infection.


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