Here's How India's Science, Technology Institutions Working Against COVID-19
Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade was hit the most. During this time, the R&D sector of the country stepped forward to take the onus of producing essential commodities in bulk and as quickly as possible and contribute solutions to fight the pandemic.
Government research bodies and private players have been actively involved in developing innovative anti-COVID-19 solutions. As per the information shared by Department of Science and Technology's Senior Scientist Jyoti Sharma and Head, International Bilateral Cooperation Division, S.K. Varshney Indian research and development (R&D), both government and private, have upped their game to fight against coronavirus.
India announced complete lockdown for its entire population of 1.3 billion people as early as when the infected count was less than 400.
Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in the country, trade was hit the most. During this time, the R&D sector of the country stepped forward to take the onus of producing essential commodities in bulk and as quickly as possible and contribute solutions to fight the pandemic.
Country's apex science and technology department, DST, has instituted and has been implementing several measures through its autonomous institutions to fight COVID-19. It has been extensively mapping solutions that require R&D support. It has also taken steps to find potential startups with viable products requiring facilitation and manufacturing support.
Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Technology Development Board (TDB), Artificial manual breathing unit (AMBU), Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), National Innovation Foundation (NSF) are some of the autonomous bodies under the DST that have been actively involved and have ramped up their R&D efforts in this discipline.
COVID-19 Task Force
The task force has been set up for mapping the COVID-19 related technology capabilities in start-ups, academia, research and development labs and industry. So far it has identified 500 entities as solutions to the current situation prevailing in the country which includes AI and IoT based solutions as well.
COVID-19 Research Consortium Program
Under this program, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), are seeking proposals from industry, academia, industry-academia partnership with a focus on affordable diagnostics, vaccines, novel therapeutics, repurposing of drugs or any other intervention for control of COVID-19.
New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI)
An initiative constituted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), this seeks proposals from industries for effective containment interventions, assistive devices such as affordable ventilators, innovative diagnostics (rapid, affordable, cutting edge), novel drugs or repurposed drugs, new vaccines or repurposed vaccine, and track-and-trace technologies.
"While India's pro-active, pre-emptive, and a 'whole government' approach to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is happening on one side, the slowdown in trade between India and the rest of the world works as counter-productive on the other side," the scientists say.
"This slowdown in trade is disrupting the supply chains of many essential commodities needed for the fight. The list of such essential commodities includes COVID-19 testing kits, masks, alcohol-based sanitizers, personal protective equipment (PPEs), dress materials for frontline health workers, ventilators (breathing devices) for patients, etc.," they added.
This situation prompted the government to activate the 'Make In India' campaigns and rope in various R&D institutes of the country.
"In such a short period of time, India was able to put thousands of researchers in the country to work round the clock to develop new testing kits, protective equipment, respiratory devices, etc.," scientists Jyoti Sharma and SK Varshney have said.
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