Bengaluru: There is no cure for COVID-19 yet and, even as researchers search for a vaccine, not much is known about the disease itself. The one thing that is well known is that it spreads very, very fast.
A medical electronics research unit based in Bengaluru, India claims it has developed the prototype of a gadget that could neutralise the spread of the virus. The prototype is being sent to the University of Maryland in the US this week, for the tests to be corroborated and its efficacy and reach to be verified.
The chairman of the firm, Organisation De Scalene, Dr Rajah Vijay Kumar, said that what his institute has created is a small device or gadget that can be kept safely in homes, auditoriums, offices, schools, cars... everywhere.
He said that the device would not offer a cure for already infected patients, but claimed that it can prevent the virus from spreading. “If you are in a room with other COVID-19 patients and have no way of knowing if others are infected, at least this device will protect you because the infection will not spread," he told News18.com
The device, he claimed, basically acts as a neutraliser of the virus' potency, so that anyone who comes in contact with, for example, a table or a chair that has the virus, would still not be affected by the virus.
Explaining the science behind it, he said coronavirus is a spiral ball-like thing with a lots of spikes called 'S-protein'. These proteins, he said, are positive cells and negative-seeking - when your body comes in contact the viruses thus go into the body and because cells have negative potential, it sticks in cells and releases its DNA into it and starts replicating. That is how the virus survives.
“This gadget we have developed only releases a huge amount of electrons - these viruses don't know the difference between electrons of your body or others. Once the electrons are released, the virus cells get neutralised. Any infected person comes in - if he touches something, these electrons will neutralise all the viral electrons. After that, even if you ingest it, it goes into your stomach as a piece of protein but won’t cause damage," he claimed.
The gadget has been a work in progress long before COVID-19 made its presence felt in the world. The institute was primarily working on this since April 2019. If there was one scientist or researcher suffering from the common cold or flu, every other scientist at the institute was likely to soon fall sick. So the researchers hit upon the idea of neutralising all kinds of flus by ensuring they don't spread from one person to another, at least within the institute. When COVID-19 hit the world, they thought this could be put to good use to curb the virus' spread.
"This does not cure an infected person. But it reduces the infectivity. If someone has this device at home, nobody else will get COVID-19. It is a containment device. We wrote to the University of Maryland and to an institute in Mexico. They want to test it," he SAID.
He had also written to the union ministry of Health and Family Welfare to do its own independent testing as early as the first week of February, when there were just three cases in India. However, the institute is yet to get a response.
Named the 'Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon’ (Shycocan), the gadget is less than the size of a microwave oven and can be placed in covered areas like rooms, corridors, schools and even open areas to a limited distance - just the way residents of Delhi put up air-purifiers, Dr Kumar said.
The device can send out 10- to 100-trillion ions per second, he said, adding that it is being used in the institute's reception and work areas in Bengaluru.
If the prototype can be delivered to the US, it would take about four to five days to validate its efficacy. The labs will also have to determine how far the electrons go, what distance it can work in, how many to deploy in public, both covered and uncovered areas, how it works on different surfaces like wood, steel, etc.
If the tests are cleared, the institute is ready to give the design and engineering of the device free of cost for mass-manufacture, Dr Kumar said. "We can get manufacturers of anything -- car manufacturers, small manufacturers, anyone - we engage all of them to manufacture this electronic device and give it out. If mass-made, it could cost just about Rs 600 for a small device and maybe Rs 4,000-plus for a large device," he said.