Health & safety: Fighting Covid-19 with sustainable healthcare solutions at a low cost

By: |
May 28, 2020 1:30 AM

Applied Materials is working with startups and research institutes for tech innovations in PPEs and low-cost respirators

Srinivas Satya, Applied Materials IndiaSrinivas Satya, Applied Materials India

The outbreak of Covid-19 has upended economies around the world. It is the worst nightmare that one could have ever anticipated to hit the world. However, India’s scientific, medical, business and federal communities are coming together to find solutions that can slow the contagion while researchers work around the clock to develop a vaccine. While we wait for a miracle vaccine or a breakthrough cure for Covid-19, the need of the hour is for sustainable healthcare solutions that can be made available quickly at a low cost.

Nasdaq-listed Applied Materials is a leading player in materials engineering solutions used to produce virtually every new chip and advanced display in the world. Its India team delivers high-quality, cost-effective solutions in product design, engineering services, product support, and software development to all business groups of Applied Materials globally. Applied Materials India is eager to utilise its core expertise in materials engineering and strong partner ecosystem to help support pandemic relief efforts. Researchers and technologists at Applied Materials India recently joined hands with its academic ecosystem partners and startup collaborators with the aim of enabling technology solutions that can be quickly deployed to help combat the spread of Covid-19. The multidisciplinary team is focused on two areas: the performance and sanitation of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the development of low-cost assisted respiration solutions.

In a recent interaction with FE, Applied Materials India country president Srinivas Satya and India CTO Suraj Rengarajan, spoke about the areas where the company is looking to collaborate with like-minded innovators:

Antiviral coating that can be sprayed on surfaces
The goal is to develop an antiviral formulation that can be sprayed onto coveralls of healthcare personnel or on any hard, nonporous surface to form a thin coating. Ideally, the coating can be designed to remain on the surface for at least six hours and be effective in viricidal action within five to 30 minutes of aerosolised virus particles dropping onto the surface.

Human-safe UV sanitising solutions for disinfecting objects
Conventional germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light has been used to clean hospital rooms and sterilise equipment but it is not safe for humans. The goal of this collaboration is to study the effectiveness of using a special type of UV light known as far-UVC light that can potentially kill microbes without harming the skin.

Ozone steriliser for reuse of PPE for healthcare workers
PPE are used by healthcare workers, frontline administrative staff and other healthcare volunteers to lower the risk of infection during their field and hospital work. With the acute shortage of PPE in India, reusing the PPE after proper sterilisation is a welcome alternative. Ozone is much stronger than common disinfectants such as chlorine or hypochlorite, and is being investigated for this application.

Low-cost ventilator solutions
Covid-19 can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, the treatment of which, in many cases, requires the patient to undergo invasive ventilation. Current projections by various health organisations put the number of patients requiring ventilation in India at a few lakhs, yet the country has a limited number of ventilators. Applied Materials is looking to collaborate with doctors, engineers, designers, 3D printers and entrepreneurs to develop simple techniques for sharing ventilators using splitters, in the hope of effectively doubling the number of patients who can be treated simultaneously using the existing stock of ventilators.

Innovations by startups
The company is also looking to work with the startup ecosystem to help fast-track technologies that can be utilised in the fight against Covid-19. In addition to monetary assistance, startups can benefit from additional technical expertise, design support and consultancy. While many have disruptive ideas and have even created successful prototypes, established organisations can aid in manufacturing these products at scale and ensure they reach patients where the need is greatest.

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