DRDO Joins War Against COVID-19

By Editor 18-May-2020

An agency tasked with protecting India’s security, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is engaged in a new battle. It is working on a diagnostic system, modified ventilators, emergency care facilities and basic personal protection equipment against the COVID-19 pandemic, which is threatening the lives of citizens.

With COVID-19 posing a major threat to India, the Central Government has roped in the services of crucial defence establishments, including the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in the war against the pandemic.

For instance, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, DRDO said that a mechanism has been developed with which one ventilator can be used by multiple COVID-19 patients. Moreover, DRDO is working on a diagnostic system, emergency care facilities and basic personal protection equipment against the disease.

“We have developed a mechanism with which one ventilator can be used by several patients. In case a large number of patients need attention at a time and there is a shortage of ventilators, then we can use one ventilator for multiple patients,” said Reddy. Reddy also said that, “COVID-19 needs early detection in an effort to treat infected persons. DRDO can also extend Bits laboratory-based detection expertise to health care fraternity of the country.”

Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) Gwalior is a premier laboratory of DRDO engaged in the development of detection systems against biological agents such as Anthrax. Reddy said that DRDE has developed diagnostic kits against these agents and the expertise of the laboratory in this regard can be harnessed to develop a diagnostic system against infectious diseases. DRDO is also in contact with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to augment the diagnostic capability if needed, Reddy added.

The DRDO has a network of 46 laboratories located around the country. It is the nodal agency engaged in developing protective measures against biological weapons attack and the expertise would be utilized to fight the pandemic. According to Reddy, eight laboratories have been chosen to produce personal protective equipment, masks and ventilator parts.

“We have given a list of our technologies to the government. Meanwhile, DRDO scientists are creating new applications every day,” he said. The Bhopal-based Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) under DRDO also has been asked to test for COVID-19 cases. Personnel sanitization enclosure Meanwhile, DRDO laboratories are working with industry partners for volume production. VRDE, Ahmednagar, a DRDO laboratory, has designed a full-body disinfection chamber called ‘Personnel sanitization enclosure.’ This walk-through enclosure is designed for personnel decontamination and can handle one person at a time. A portable system equipped with sanitizer and
soap dispenser, the decontamination is started using a foot pedal at the entry.

On entering the chamber, an electricallyoperated pump creates a disinfectant mist of Sodium hypochlorite. The mist spray is calibrated for an operation of 25 seconds and stops automatically indicating completion of operation. As per procedure, personnel undergoing disinfection will need to keep their eyes closed while inside the chamber. The system consists of roof-mounted and bottom tanks with a total capacity of 700 litres. Around 650 personnel can pass through the chamber for disinfection until the refill is required.

The system has see-through glass panels on side walls for monitoring and is fitted with lights for illumination during night time operations. A separate operator cabin is provided to monitor overall operations. The system, manufactured with the help of M/s Dass Hitachi Ltd,Ghaziabad, within four days, can be used for disinfection of personnel at the areas of controlled ingress and egress such as entry and exit to hospitals, malls, office buildings and critical installations.