The cases of infections and deaths related to COVID-19 in India are increasing by leaps and bounds. While it took about 2 months to reach the first 1000 cases, it increased to 2000 just within 5 days, then with every 3 days the count has been increasing by 1000, and now the frequency of that occurrence has reduced to a day. Today the COVID+ cases have crossed 8000. Though experts concur that the lockdown has checked the spread of the disease till now to a considerable extent, the need for eHealth technologies is crucial in a country with a billion+ people under home quarantine. Four alumni starts-ups from IIT Kharagpur have developed technologies to offer assistance towards surveillance, mass-scale sanitization and automatization of dissemination of official information related to novel coronavirus.
Innovaccer, a data-driven healthcare technology start-up co-founded by Abhinav Shashank and Kanav Hasija from 2010 batch, has has launched a self-assessment based app to screen for COVID-19 patients. The self-assessment test asks users to fill in a survey based on their symptoms. It also provides coronavirus-related updates to citizens in the region.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious challenge to current healthcare infrastructure. While our providers are tirelessly treating thousands of patients every day, we want to help them in this global health crisis by expanding their reach. To help the government, healthcare organizations and all frontline healthcare workers care as one, we are launching COVID-19 Management System to enable virtual care,” says Abhinav Shashank, CEO of Innovaccer.
Health authorities of Goa and Puducherry have tied up with Innovaccer to curb the spread of novel CoronaVirus pandemic with the Automated Self-evaluation Assessment to Identify At-Risk Patients for COVID-19.
In another such initiative, Intugine, co-founded by IIT Kharagpur alumni Harshit Shrivastava (2016 batch) and Ayush Agrawal (2018 batch), is using their flagship product ‘Mobile Number Location Tracking’ to monitor huge number of home-quarantined individuals and ensure they follow social distancing. The Kgpians claim that their location intelligence platform, which is based on cell triangulation technology, can work on SMS-based user content without installing any application, i.e. even on basic phones, which makes it easy to implement.
The company has recently announced that this solution can enable effective crowd monitoring of quarantined cases in a least intrusive and scalable manner, on a single dashboard with a central control tower, reducing the pressure on the ground teams to visit each location and ensure adherence.
“Our logistics platform fits seamlessly in providing a solution to the coronavirus monitoring. Upon understanding it better, we quickly tweaked our platform by conducting a pilot in a handful of districts to check the feasibility,” says Ayush Agrawal.
He confirmed getting positive response as well in detecting the breaches of home quarantined cases and reaching out to appropriate authorities who can put the platform to use for surveillance.
Mass-scale Sanitisation and Sterilization
While surveillance of the population is critical, a significant section of the population engaged in essential services are required to regularly access public spaces. Alumnus Debayan Saha collaboratively developed Airlens Minus Corona, a device which may help sanitise large areas. The innovators claim that the product might be able to address the challenge by using charged water droplets which are ionised using the viral discharge.
“Alcohols (like ethanol or IPA) are known to inactivate viruses by denaturing their protein coat. But the alcohol-based hand sanitiser is useful for individuals or for sanitising surfaces at a smaller scale (home, offices, etc.) in the fight against coronavirus. However, this is insufficient in such an emergency as it is impractical to use alcohol for sanitising cities,” said Saha.
The device is designed to look like Robo Sapien (human-like) machine that operates on the mechanism of charged water droplets which are ionised using the corona discharge. The ionised water in return oxidises the viral protein reducing it to a non-harmful molecule, opined the innovators. The innovators are hoping to reach out to organisations and government bodies for large scale application.
While media is reporting on health status, government announcements related to COVID-19, people may have queries regarding the lifestyle to follow beyond social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Apollonius Voicebot developed by alumnus Souva Majumder is addressing such queries. People can record their queries on the platform denguebot.in which are answered by an AI application. The bot has integrated information provided by the World Health Organization, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, and My Gov platform.
COVID-19 has reaffirmed the need for technology based hygiene and healthcare, which may not fade away with the situation normalising but rather lead to a future which cause less damage from pandemic, which may not require global lockdown.
This article only shares information about technological innovations by the alumni and is neither an endorsement nor can be used as a statement of validation for the above mentioned interventions.
If you are alumni, faculty or student of IIT Kharagpur and working in the following areas, please share your story on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Personal protective equipment,
- Testing kit,
- Development of medical equipment, bots,
- Pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatment,
- Data analytics and AI to model epidemic patterns and disease dynamics