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IIT Roorkee’s constant effort to combat COVID crisis

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With an array of healthcare products to help the medical fraternity combat the COVID-19 crisis, IIT Roorkee’s gesture can bring in a change to the health sector

Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT Roorkee), has played a proactive role to help healthcare workers fight against the deadly coronavirus and has developed a slew of products.

While mentioning about the latest developments at IIT Roorkee, Prof Manish Shrikhande, Dean Sponsored Research & Consultancy (SRIC), IIT Roorkee, says, “Immediate, short-term response to COVID-19 situation has seen the development of designs for protective gears for the frontline workers. Different groups have been working on different fronts to chip in with whatever they could contribute to alleviating hardships.”

Though there were no grants from the government, it was the will power of the researchers at IIT Roorkee who toiled hard to help the health workers and patients.

Products developed

Recently, the institute developed a continuously operated sterilisation system for everyday accessories to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19. The device was handed over to Haridwar Municipal Corporation.

Says Prof Shrikhande, “We have developed an automated ultraviolet sanitisation system on request from Haridwar Municipality and an antimicrobial nano-coating which can be used in face masks to improve their effectiveness as protective gear.”

IIT Roorkee has also developed a low-cost portable ventilator called ‘Prana-Vayu’, which is a closed-loop ventilator and is equipped with state-of-the-art features and has been designed especially for COVID-19 pandemic. It is low-cost, safe, reliable, and can be quickly manufactured.

Says Prof Shrikhande, “We have successfully achieved the ventilatory requirement on a test lung, and it can be used for both infants and even overweight adults. Additionally, it does not require compressed air for functioning and can be especially useful in cases when hospital wards or open areas are converted into ICUs. It is safe and reliable as it is equipped with real-time spirometry and alarms. It can automatically limit high pressure with an alarm system. In case of a failure, the circuit opens to the atmosphere to prevent choking. Some additional features are remote monitoring by health professionals, touch screen control of all operating parameters, moister, and temperature control for inhaled air. The manufacturing cost per ventilator is estimated to be Rs 25000.”

The institute, from the beginning of COVID-19 threat, started the community service of preparation and distribution of alcohol-based hand rub for improving sanitation.

According to Prof Shrikhande, “We have designed and fabricated low-cost face shields, face masks, and swab sample collection kiosks. There was a huge demand for face shields from medical institutions around us, as well as from civil and cantonment administration. We got these low-cost face shields manufactured and distributed those to hospitals, police, municipality, security and sanitation workers to protect them from infection.”

The development of protective gear and sanitisation equipment gives them additional protection from infection and equips them to tackle the situation with more confidence.

When asked about the challenges, he specifically mentioned logistics issues and sourcing of raw materials.

Future plans

Long term, IIT Roorkee plans to collaborate with leading institutes in the search for a vaccine for novel coronavirus.

Says Prof. Shrikhande, “We are also contemplating taking up other research activities to study several aspects of this pandemic from different perspectives, such as sociological implications of lockdowns, pollution and water quality in rivers, etc.”

Till May 19 night, there was one positive case in Roorkee.

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