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 Table of Contents  
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 73

Hacking Covid-19 with technology


1 Department of Anaesthesia, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
2 Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission02-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance28-Nov-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Jun-2021

Correspondence Address:
Pradeep Aggarwal
Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_439_20

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  Abstract 


The development, implementation and advancement of technology solutions aimed at combating the COVID-19 outbreak are rapidly taking shape in India. Governments, Venture Capitalists, Academic Institutions, Incubators, Start-ups, and businesses large and small are all doing their part to deploy new innovative solutions as quickly as possible. Various databases were searched to look for different advancements in technology during the current coronavirus pandemic. It is seen that on one end nonpharmacological measure (social distancing, self-isolation, clean hands, and face masks) are time-tested and low-tech ways to help mitigate the viral spread. On the other end, Science and technology sector constituting of data science, machine learning, rapid diagnostic tests, mobile-first telehealth and computational simulation systems for drug development, artificial intelligence, virtual collaboration, and data tracking are complex ways of using the technology that have strengthened our pandemic response.

Keywords: COVID-19, India, pandemics, technology


How to cite this article:
Jain B, Khan A, Verma N, Bahurupi Y, Singh M, Aggarwal P. Hacking Covid-19 with technology. Int J Prev Med 2021;12:73

How to cite this URL:
Jain B, Khan A, Verma N, Bahurupi Y, Singh M, Aggarwal P. Hacking Covid-19 with technology. Int J Prev Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 22];12:73. Available from: https://www.ijpvmjournal.net/text.asp?2021/12/1/73/319441




  Introduction Top


COVID-19 pandemic is defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War II. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica.[1] It is a public health emergency with grave implications for whole of the world including India creating devastating social, economic and political crises.[2]

COVID-19 may be having a devastating impact on our industries, social lives, and personal grooming standards, but it is also prompting an outpouring of creativity in other arenas. The only reprieve, thanks to technological advancements, is that we are more equipped than any era in history to respond to a pandemic. During the time of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2002, it took scientists more than a year to decode the genome of the virus, whereas thanks to tech advancements, the Coronavirus genome was identified within a month.[3],[4]

Technology cannot prevent the onset of the pandemics; however, it can help prevent the spread, educate, warn, and empower those on the ground to be aware of the situation, and noticeably lessen the impact. Today, with converging technologies like mobile, remote monitoring cloud, analytics, robotics, Artificial intelligence/Machine Learning, 4G/5G, and high-speed internet, it has become possible to test several innovative approaches to pandemic response.[5] With despair lingering and the world in disarray, had it not been the effective and advanced technology solutions, we would have been staring at an unmanageable crisis.

Every cloud has silver lining and COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise for reinforcing our trust and belief on the power of technology. In times like these, not only developed countries but also developing countries like India is arming itself with ideas and innovations to fight the outbreak. It is not only engineers and doctors, but also students who are pitching in to make the best use of technology. The underlying theme of the technological transformation will revolve around creating business models that will survive in a “less-contact” society–a concept that will be etched in the collective memory of our society and would see prominence in the years to come. Hence, narrative review was planned.[3]

Aim and objective

To review technological advancements in India in the Covid-19 pandemic.


  Methods Top


As the purpose was to gather all the available reports for the evidence synthesis, we opted for academic search from the following databases: Pub Med, SCOPUS, Science Citation Index, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, also extensive searches were done on official websites of World Health Organization (WHO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Worldindata, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), European CDC. We accessed the published literature, grey literature, newspaper articles and print media interview, media reports, news channel bites, You Tube channels and blogs by individuals, universities with specific reference to Indian context focusing on Various Technological advancement during COVID-19 from 1st February 2020 till date 22 July 2020. The following key words. #1: 'Technology, 'Advancement', #2: 'COVID 19', 'Coronavirus', 'Pandemic', #3: 'India'.

During this time, the Research and Development 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. Innovations are expected to continue to transform healthcare and change the way patients are cared for forever. Such innovations in India are:

A 'Compendium of Indian technologies for combating COVID-19' (Tracing, testing and treating)

It was prepared by National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) and launched by Council of Scientific and Indian Research (CSIR) and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), India. It carries information about 200 COVID-19-related Indian technologies, ongoing research activities, technologies available for commercialisation, initiatives and efforts taken by the Government of India such as digital and molecular surveillance database, rapid testing kit, mobile tracking application, Real-time PCR test, an antimicrobial fabric, UV Bot to disinfect hospitals, a Bio Body Suit and herbal products to boost the immune system.[6]

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. The task force comprises of members from NITI Aayog, Ministry of Ayush, ICMR, CSIR, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT). Its primary aim will be to aid, support and speed up innovative work by academia and industry, as well as synchronized international efforts. This includes Artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Internet of Things (IoT) based solutions as well. India's top Venture Capitalists (Sequoia Capital, Accel, Matrix Partners, Kalaari Capital and others) along with investors are setting up funds to support startups and develop products.[7],[8]

Connecting people

Entrepreneurs and innovators from India have highlighted a good example via the triple helix model of connecting innovations, integrating efforts between universities, industries, start-ups, and the government, in response to Covid-19.[9]

Crowdsourcing ideas

Crowdsourced platforms have also proved to be essential channel for bringing together wisdom from universities, industry and government. Some examples are Covid-19 solution, BreakCorona and Coronasafe-Network launched by Government of India.[9]

COVID-19 research consortium program

Under this program, DBT and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), are also seeking proposals from industry, academia, industry-academia partnership for new innovations.[8]

New millennium Indian technology leadership initiative (NMITLI)

CSIR has constituted NMITLI, seeks proposals from industries for effective containment interventions, such as affordable ventilators, innovative diagnostics and testing kits, drugs or new vaccines, track-and-trace technologies, masks, alcohol-based sanitizers, personal protective equipment (PPEs), dress materials for frontline health workers.[8]

New innovations

Meanwhile, India's R&D labs have turned into war rooms where scientists are leading the charge, working round the clock to build their weapons. Moreover bureaucrats, doctor-turned-entrepreneurs, from regulators such as DCGI and ICMR to corporations such as Tata and Mahindra – are all joining forces to strengthen India's fight. Governments, Venture Capitalists, Academic Institutions, Incubators, Startups, and businesses large and small are all doing their part to deploy new innovative solutions as quickly as possible. Elite scientists, IITians, startup founders, top corporate executives, doctors, prominent members of the Indian diaspora and bureaucrats. Large corporations such as M&M, Tata, Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki and state-owned Bharat Electronics are joining forces. They are reconfiguring their plants to make products such as ventilators. Some of these new technologies and innovations have been summarized in the [Table 1] and [Table 2] below.
Table 1: Application of modern technologies by Government and health care workers for care of individual and community in COVID-19 pandemic

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Table 2: Various digital based technologies and their applications in fighting COVID-19 pandemic

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[Table 1] depicts with the growing crisis, companies and researchers over the world are looking for the ways to address the challenges of this virus, to mitigate the spread and develop a cure for this disease. As a result, various technological advancements taken place for screening (e.g., screening tools by Apple and CDC), diagnosis (e.g., testing kits by MyLab, Abbott), contact tracing (e.g., qXR and qSCOUT by PATH), prevention [various vaccines by ICMR, Serum Institute of India (SII), Indian Immunological Limited (IIL)] and treatment (drugs such as FabiFlu, coronil) of patients of COVID-19. Other innovations include low cost portable ventilators (e.g., Nocca Robotics by IIT Kanpur, Prana Vayu by AIIMS Rishikesh and IIT Roorkee), drones (e.g., Garuda Aerospace, Chennai, Marut drones, Hyderabad), sanitizing machines, robots and various other devices. These innovations were done to lessen patient contact and to ease the work of health care workers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing massive disruptions in our healthcare system, many Indian innovators are rising to the challenge. [Table 2] depicts various digital-based innovations taken place during this pandemic in India such as smart phone apps (like COVID-19 map by Microsoft Bing telecom operators like JIO, Airtel, BSNL), distance learning (by ZOOM, Google meet, DIKSHA portal), telehealth (telemedicine, eSanjeevani app), Covid-19 tracking app (e.g., Arogya Setu) and many more. These were introduced to keep the public updated regarding daily track of Covid-19 cases, what all precautions to be taken during this pandemic time, to be in touch with health care workers.


  Conclusions Top


While the headline of COVID-19 is going to be the unfortunate mass destruction it has brought to nations in terms of lives lost and economic rout, the footnote of COVID-19 could very well be the technological and business transformation it will bring along, which may have a long-lasting impact beyond COVID-19. In a world that could be known as 'Post Covid-19 Era', we will see technology playing an enhanced role that will shape and reshape business conduct and consumer behaviour. With lockdowns and other social distancing measures in effect in many countries, and with more people relying on the Internet for information and advice, governments will deploy effective digital technologies to contain the outbreak. Together, WE CAN OVERCOME! Together, WE ARE STRONGER. Big or small, every effort counts and it will all have a great impact on our future lives.

Acknowledgments

All authors have contributed equally.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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    Tables

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