COVID-19: Anant National University designs mobile testing facility

Mumbai, Jun 5 (PTI) Ahmedabad-based Anant National University on Friday said it has designed a compact, effective, and contact-free mobile testing facility for swab collection and X-ray testing for coronavirus infection.

Fitted on a cargo three-wheeler, which is also equipped with a stretcher, the equipment only needs a driver and a health worker trained to handle the X-ray machine and oxygen supply, it said in a release.

The facility for swab collections is priced at Rs 5.1 lakh, while the one for X-ray testing comes with a price tag of Rs 11.5 lakh, it added, claiming the facility to be the 'most affordable' in the world and therefore suitable to operate on a mass scale in the country.

'The testing challenges in India are unique and we have to slash costs and at the same time give as much functionality as possible,' Dhaval Monani, director of affordable housing and associate professor at Anant National University (ANU) said.

'We have re-engineered much of the processes to create a unique rugged vehicle that is a hallmark of what we like to term 'frugal innovation'' he added.

The university is also in talks with various state governments for the equipment to fasten the testing process and make emergency oxygen more easily available in the country, the release said.

Owing to the advanced X-ray technology as well as easy door-to-door access of auto-rickshaws even in narrow lanes, the facility can test over 500 people for COVID-19 in a day.

Besides, moderate cases of COVID-19 patients awaiting an ambulance or a hospital bed can benefit from the emergency oxygen supply from oxygen cylinders installed in the vehicle which can be dropped off at the residence of the patient, it said.

Isolation chambers for patient, health worker, and driver of the vehicle have been created by retrofitting walls as partitions in the auto-rickshaw, it added.

In order to maintain high standards of sanitation, the patient area comes with an automated sanitiser spray that is activated by four jet nozzles that thoroughly disinfect the area each time a patient leaves the chamber.

'We need to ensure access to COVID-19 testing for all in India and oxygen for patients across economic segments. We slashed down the cost of the vehicle and instead invested heavily in high-end medical equipment, such as X-ray testing that is contact free and gives immediate results as well as automated sanitiser sprays,' said Miniya Chatterji, director, Anant Centre for Sustainability and CEO, Sustain Labs.

This is in contrast to popular mobile collections of bio-specimens and testing facilities in a bus or truck, where just the cost of vehicle makes mobile collections, testing and mobile oxygen expensive and difficult to scale, she added.

The team at the university has also been transforming vacant spaces across the country into temporary hospitals and quarantine centres, the release said, adding a total of 720 beds have been developed so far as part of the exercise. PTI IAS RVK