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This startup leads India’s race to build low-cost ventilators

“India currently has about 45,000-50000 ventilators, but most of them are already occupied,” he said.

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New Delhi, April 3 : Sensing the critical need of ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients, a bunch of engineers associated with an Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur)-incubated company — Nocca Robotics — is leading the race to build low-cost ventilators in the country.

With the feedback from IIT Kanpur alumni network and support from global team of expert mentors, bio-medical engineers, doctors, R&D leaders, supply chain, MedTech business leaders, the company has already developed second iteration of the prototype and hopes to go for lab testing of the prototypes in about 8-10 days and after successful testing of those it will go for clinical trial.

These clinical trials are expected to begin in about 20 days from now once all required permissions are granted.

“We now have a second iteration of the prototype which is working very well and we are moving in the positive direction,” Nikhil Kurele, Co-Founder and CEO of Nocca Robotics, told IANS over the phone from Pune.

“I will not claim that we have the final ventilator ready which we can take to hospital the next day for use, but definitely if you look at the functionalities and the different parameters which are required to cure a person with COVID-19 condition, we are achieving those parametres,” Kurele said.

While around eight engineers of the company are now focusing completely on research and development of the ventilator, a team of about 15 members from IIT Kanpur and Indian Angel Network (IAN), a network of angel investors keen to invest in early stage businesses, are taking care of all other non-technical issues related to developing the ventilator, including funds, grants, acquiring the necessary permissions for testing and manufacturing.

Co-founded by Kurele and Harshit Rathore, both graduates from IIT Kanpur, Nocca Robotics, which has a nearly 8,000-square feet facility in Pune for making its robots for waterless-cleaning of solar plants, is already in talks with a few companies regarding the manufacturing of their ventilators.

“In the next step, we are planning to develop 10 pieces of market-ready prototypes. In the next week or so we will try to take these prototypes to labs for testing. In the meantime, we are also working on supply chain and logistics,” Kurele said.

But the company is also facing certain challenges, especially in terms of procuring certain components needed for making these ventilators.

“But definitely we will need some support from the government on which IIT Kanpur and IAN are definitely working on.

“We are facing certain challenges in procuring some components from abroad. Semiconductor is one of them. It is something we cannot source from within India…On this front we need some help in terms of regulation, some relaxation on imports from the government,” he said.

Whether Nocca Robotics will continue to make ventilators even after the COVID-19 challenge is over will depend on what its investors and mentors want, Kurele said.

“We basically make robots for waterless cleaning of solar plants. We already have two- three different robots for that and we have already deployed them in some places in Rajasthan,” he said.

“Our objective is not to get into this (ventilator) business. Our objective is to fill in the gap which is there in the market and help the way we can (to fight COVID-19),” the IIT Kanpur alumnus said.

While the price of imported ventilators can go up to Rs 5 lakhs and even more, Nocca Robotics is trying to keep the price of their ventilator below Rs 50,000.

However, these ventilators will be particularly focused on treating COVID-19 patients. So they cannot fully be compared with full-fledged ventilators which cost a lot more.

Only invasive ventilators can treat COVID-19 patients, Kurele said, adding that the team first designed a non-invasive ventilator.

After getting feedback from doctors, they started working on an invasive ventilator.

“One challenge was to build the ventilators using components that are either being manufactured in India or can easily be sourced to India,” Kurele said.

“The biggest challenge that the big companies that are making ventilators are facing is the supply. There are no sufficient raw materials right now because the need for ventilators is increasing multiple fold in every country and a lot of trade restrictions are being made regarding the ventilators,” Kurele said.

However, there are certain components like semiconductor that will still have to be imported.

With most of the ventilators that India currently has already being occupied, India is trying to procure about 1.5- 1.7 lakh ventilators over a few months, he said.

“India currently has about 45,000-50000 ventilators, but most of them are already occupied,” he said.

“Working on a war footing, a working prototype has already been developed and manufacturing will be scaled through high-quality manufacturers in both public and private sectors. We hope to get to 30,000 ventilators by May, priced at 1/10th of the global price,” Saurabh Srivastava, Chairman and Co-founder at Indian Angel Network (IAN), told IANS.

Nocca Robotics has already made global headlines for their effort to build low-cost ventilators that have potential to save thousands of lives.

“We are cheering on these Indian engineers as they race to build a low-cost ventilator — a potential game-changer for #COVID19. W/ support from @MIT engineers & production advice from a US-based company, we hope this invention succeeds & can eventually be produced at scale,” US Department of State’s Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells tweeted on Thursday.

(Gokul Bhagabati can be contacted at [email protected])

Health

After Gowda episode, Karnataka exempts ministers, officials from quarantine

Gowda, a Lok Sabha member from the Bangalore North constituency, flew into the city in a commercial flight on the first day of resumption of domestic services after 63 days of lockdown.

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Sadananda Gowd

Bengaluru, May 25 : The Karnataka government exempted Union and state ministers and officials from quarantine, which it made mandatory for all entering the state from other states or overseas to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, a top official said on Monday.

“The ministers of Union government or state governments or officers on duty will be exempted from quarantine as has been done for health professionals,” said state Health Commissioner P.K. Pandey in an order here.

The order has also exempted any person who gets a Covid negative test certificate from an ICMR approved lab which is not more than 2 days old from the date of journey, from institution quarantine.

The order has also exempted airlines crew on official duty from quarantine.

The order came on a day when Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D.V. Sadananda Gowda was allowed to exit the airport on arriving from New Delhi without going into 7-day institutional quarantine, as other passengers who too came from the national capital, which is one of the 6 most Covid-hit states in the country.

Gowda, a Lok Sabha member from the Bangalore North constituency, flew into the city in a commercial flight on the first day of resumption of domestic services after 63 days of lockdown.

“I am exempted under the clause by the state government as well as the Central government,” Gowda told a local news channel when asked how he could avoid the mandatory quarantine on landing from Delhi.

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Health

Domestic passengers landing at Kerala don’t seem to need Aarogya Setu

After landing at the airport here, all were asked to pass through a thermal scanner.

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, May 25 : With the commercial domestic aviation services restarting in the country on Monday, it appears the Aarogya Setu app is not a requirement at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

A passenger who arrived from Delhi on the first flight that landed here on Monday told IANS that no one asked him about Aarogya Setu app inside or outside the airport here.

“When I entered the Delhi airport, I was asked if I have Aarogya Setu app and I said yes. Then I was allowed to enter the airport. In the aircraft what I could see was social distancing was maintained. There was no in-flight service of any sort during the flight,” said the passenger who did not wished to be identified.

After landing at the airport here, all were asked to pass through a thermal scanner.

“After that there is a health desk with a doctor and a few others. They asked me a few questions and I was let off as I had no symptoms. Then I had to fill a few forms and then went to a counter where I showed the pass that I had received when I first registered online two days back, before I booked my air ticket. The person manning the counter asked me all my details of where I will be staying and such things. After the registration was over, I got another pass and was allowed to go out of the airport,” said the passenger and added no one asked him about the app.

“Outside I could see buses of the state-owned Transport Department and I took a car and reached my home, where I have been asked to be in quarantine for 14 days. Now I will be staying indoors till my quarantine period is over,” added the passenger who works in Delhi.

According to rules here, anyone arriving in Kerala on flights, can go into state run quarantine centres, if they so wish or if they have a separate attached bathroom at their home can remain in it for two weeks, when the quarantine period will end.

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Cities

163 new COVID19 cases in Bihar, tally 2,737

Death toll in the state is 13, with Patna, Vaishali and Khagaria accounting for two fatalities each and one death reported from Munger, Rohtas, Begusarai, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Siwan and Saran districts each.

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Corona outbreak PPE Kits

Patna, May 25 : With 163 fresh cases on Monday, the COVID-19 tally stood at 2,737 in Bihar, where the number of infection has seen a rapid rise in the recent past mainly on the account of the influx of migrant workers, the health department said.

The department put the number of migrants testing positive since May 3 at 1,754, which is close to 80 per cent of the total number of cases reported during the period. Special trains carrying them from far and wide began reaching the state on May 2.

The majority of the infected migrants are returnees from Delhi (411), Maharashtra (403), Gujarat (276), Haryana (146), Rajasthan (95), Uttar Pradesh (89), Telangana (81) and West Bengal (76), according to a break-up provided by the department.

Among the 163 cases reported during the day, Patna district accounted for 11, which caused its tally to reach 211. Two of these were reported from Lodipur and Samanpura localities of the state capital, while the remaining were from rural areas of the district, the worst-hit in Bihar.Advertisement
Bihar had reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 from 15 districts on Sunday.

Cases have been reported from all 38 districts of the state and nine of these — Patna, Rohtas, Begusarai, Munger, Madhubani, Katihar, Khagaria, Buxar and Jehanabad — have tallies in three-digits. Only Sheohar has reported less than 10 cases.

Death toll in the state is 13, with Patna, Vaishali and Khagaria accounting for two fatalities each and one death reported from Munger, Rohtas, Begusarai, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Siwan and Saran districts each.

The number of samples tested so far is 66,148.

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