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Anant National University designs compact mobile COVID-19 testing, oxygen facility

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The facility is fitted inside cargo auto-rickshaw. There are two variations: one is facility for swab collections, priced at Rs 5.1 lakh; while second is facility for X-ray testing for COVID-19, priced at Rs 11.5 lakh

The facility is fitted inside cargo auto-rickshaw. There are two variations: one is facility for swab collections, priced at Rs 5.1 lakh; while second is facility for X-ray testing for COVID-19, priced at Rs 11.5 lakh

Anant National University has designed a compact, effective, and contact-free mobile COVID-19 testing and oxygen facility. The facility is fitted inside a cargo auto-rickshaw. There are two variations: one is the facility for swab collections and it is priced at Rs 5.1 lakh; while the second is a facility for X-ray testing for COVID-19 and is priced at Rs 11.5 lakh, making these the most affordable facilities of their type in the world and therefore suitable to operate on a mass scale in India. These can both be operated by any government or non-government body that is approved by ICMR to conduct testing activities in their area. The facility only needs a driver and a health worker trained to handle the X-ray machine and oxygen supply.  

Quick facts:

  • The process to transform a cargo auto-rickshaw into an ‘Anant COVID-19 Testing and Oxygen Auto-rickshaw’ takes no more than 3-5 days.
  • The transformation will be done by Anant National University and then transported to anywhere in India. 
  • The design of the vehicle ensures adherence to social-distancing norms.
  • Sanitisation is automated and thorough. 
  • The vehicle can travel to inaccessible and cramped urban and rural layouts which are a common feature in India.
  • The vehicle can conduct testing throughout the day by employing shifts for the driver and health worker.
  • The Swab collections facility also has a separated space for patients to take oxygen in a reclined and cushioned chair.  
  • The X-ray testing facility is a one-time-investment, with lowered costs on the vehicle and instead fitted with cutting-edge medical and non-medical equipment which gives immediate results.

Owing to the advanced X-ray technology used in the respective facilities as well as the easy door-to-door access of auto-rickshaws even in narrow lanes, the X-ray testing for COVID-19 facility can test 500+ people for COVID-19 in a day. Moderate cases of COVID-19 patients awaiting an ambulance or a hospital bed can benefit from the emergency oxygen supply of the oxygen cylinders installed in the vehicle which can be dropped off at the residence of the patient. Both versions of the auto-rickshaw also come equipped with a stretcher that can be used to transport patients to the hospital. To run the equipment 24×7, a diesel generator is fitted on top of the vehicle. 

By retrofitting walls as partitions in the auto-rickshaw, we have created isolation chambers for the patient, health worker, and the driver of the vehicle. In order to maintain high standards of sanitation, the patient area comes with an automated sanitiser spray that is activated by four jet nozzles that thoroughly disinfect the area each time a patient leaves the chamber. 

Initiated and led by Dr Miniya Chatterji, Director, Anant Centre for Sustainability and CEO Sustain Labs, the Anant COVID-19 Testing and Oxygen Auto-rickshaw has been designed by Dhaval Monani, Director, Affordable Housing and Associate Professor, Anant National University, Joel Fernando, Visual Designer and Multimedia Associate, Anant National University assisted in the development of the prototype. The advisor to this project is Dr Anunaya Chaubey, Provost, Anant National University.

“The testing challenges in India are unique and we have to slash costs and at the same time give as much functionality as possible. We have re-engineered much of the processes to create a unique rugged vehicle that is hallmark of what we like to term ‘frugal innovation’,” said Monani.

Through consultations with a panel of medical experts and research laboratories, the team identified the equipment required for the X-ray testing for COVID-19 facility to give immediate results. The team used the inputs garnered from this consultation process to design a model that can enter the narrowest lanes of India to conduct testing and provide immediate results. The auto-rickshaw is equipped with cutting-edge technology and necessary medical equipment to ensure accuracy and promptness in results.

Dr Chatterji says, “We need to ensure access to COVID-19 testing for all in India and oxygen for patients across economic segments. We slashed down the cost of the vehicle and instead invested heavily in high end medical equipment, such as X-ray testing that is contact free and gives immediate results as well as automated sanitiser sprays. This is in great contrast to popular mobile collections of bio specimens and testing facilities in a bus or truck, where the cost of just the vehicle itself makes mobile collections, testing and mobile oxygen expensive and difficult to scale.”

The team has simultaneously designed one other facility: a mobile oxygen ambulance in an auto-rickshaw, that is fitted with only a stretcher and oxygen supply, which is priced at Rs 4.25 lakh. Besides this, the team at Anant National University has also been transforming vacant spaces across India into temporary hospitals and quarantine centres. A total of 720 beds have been developed thus far, in an effective and highly affordable manner.   

About the initiative, Dr Chaubey said, “Being a design and architecture university, we have applied our design thinking knowledge to seek solutions for this pandemic. AnantU has responded fast with answers: visors, temporary hospitals, quarantine facilities including economical and eco-friendly laminated cardboard beds and awareness posters for prevention and treatment. Our latest offering is the ‘Anant Mobile COVID-19 Testing and Oxygen Auto-rickshaw’, a mobile testing and emergency oxygen facility as the name suggests. Our team has shown great foresight whilst designing this COVID-19 testing vehicle, which will be beneficial to a large sum of people.”

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