The IIT Alumni Council created the C19 Task Force on March 16, 2020 as a Rapid Action Task Force to help in the battle against the Sars Cov2 Virus which causes the Covid19 disease. This Task Force has mobilised the support of thousands of IIT Alumni from India as well as overseas to help in the development of key technologies to find a global solution for the testing and treatment of Covid 19.
NSCI Dome: Creating a Real Time Live Laboratory, the first task at hand was to align with a Real Time Live Laboratory with real Covid 19 patients. The medical world had very limited understanding of the disease. Policy Makers and government departments were even less aware. Technology developers and researchers were battling completely in the dark with no precedents, no data, no studies and no place to carry out experiments. It was a vicious cycle of ignorance killing innovation and the lack of innovation killing people. In order to get out of this loop, IIT Alumni Council selected South Mumbai as their geography of work and Dr Mufazzal Lakdawala as the Mission Head to be supported for deploying real innovation in real time in a real hospital. In pursuance of this objective, Dr Mufazzal Lakdawala created the NSCI Dome Hospital which became the world's first technology and data driven contactless hospital. The Dome went live in end April and lost just one patient out of the first 1000 Covid positive patients onboarded in the facility which effectively had just one full time doctor. This made the NSCI Dome the world's best performing Covid Hospital. NSCI Dome has become a showpiece of Indian Innovation and Technology - garnering global praise for both the contactless concept and the outstanding results.
Covid Test Bus: Helping Handle the Mumbai Slums Crisis, Social Distancing is an impossibility in Mumbai Slums like Dharavi and Jijamata. With 8-10 people sharing a room and upto 100 people sharing a set of bathrooms - isolation, testing and treatment take on completely new challenges. The clinic had to go to these slums to be effective. A quick and cost effective screening tool with instant results was required for testing and isolation. The Covid Bus was launched on Maharashtra Day (May 1). Digital X-rays were used as an interim tool and complemented by pool testing - both innovations from IIT Alumni Council partner organisations. Using a prudent combination of digital imaging, AI, molecular biology based pool testing and telemedicine, the Bus could screen over 500 people each day with a 90%+ diagnostic accuracy.
MegaLab Mumbai: Using equipment from the Tubercolosis Mission, India started RTPCR tests for Covid 19. Neither machines nor test kits were available. Proprietary systems increased cost as well as downtime since the machines could not run with alternate kits. To overcome these challenges, MegaLab Mumbai was conceived of as the world's largest RTPCR lab with adequate capacity to test the entire population of Mumbai monthly using pool testing. The Lab is initially to be housed in a temporary location - finally shifting to a 10 acre plot that would house an iconic building, a memorial for the dead and a celebration for the healthcare workers who saved lives.
MegaTx: India does not have a large biologics or plasma products industry - the former because of the hight cost of products and the latter because of laws which prohibit commercial trade in blood and blood derived products. Live experiments showed that convalescent plasma therapy was helping save the lives of critical patients. At the same time, there was a need to shift from convalescent plasma to intravenous immunoglobulins which are safer and easier to administer. However in the long term, there was a need to shift from antibodies that were harvested from recovered patients through blood donations - to nature identical antibodies manufactured using biotechnology in a cell line. The MegaTx initiative starts off with harvesting 50,000 litres of blood per month for harvesting of antibodies and then shifting to monoclonal antibodies expressed in a mammalian cell line.
Mega Incubator: India does not have a large molecular diagnostics or biologics manufacturing. Both these industries as well as several others including genomics and water treatment rely on engineered biomolecules. In order to accelerate progress in the area of engineered biomolecules, the IIT Alumni Council has promoted the Mega Incubator initiative which targets aggregation of 2.5 million square feet of incubator and manufacturing space, a 100,000 square feet pilot and developmental manufacturing facility and a large residential campus for training in the NCR area. The Mega Incubator will also include a BSL3 laboratory being built in the Kalina Campus of Mumbai University at the Institute of Nano Bio Sciences. The Mega Incubator will involve an investment of Rs 500 crores in the first phase and is likely to attract manufacturing investments of Rs 10,000 crores thus developing the NCR Area into a major global hub for manufacturing of biomolecules including biotherapeutics, Biosimilars and other biologics.