How these Indian startups have joined the effort to fight coronavirus outbreak
The deadly outbreak of the coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19) that originated in Wuhan, China, has now turned into a global nightmare. As of March 9, 2020, the number of cases reported worldwide crossed 110,000, with the disease killing over 3,800 people so far.
Startups across the globe have joined the fight to halt the spread of the epidemic. US-based SaaS provider LogMeIn is offering free access to its collaboration and remote access software to governments, municipalities, educational institutions, healthcare organisations, and non-profits.
Zoom Communications, which provides remote conferencing services, has recently removed the 40-minute limit on meetings of more than two people for free users in China. Doctors from more than 1,000 public hospitals in China use its video conferencing software to conduct online consultations, remotely diagnose patients and provide treatment.
While global companies are stepping up to fight against the novel coronavirus, here are four Indian startups which are leading the charge at home:
With the spread of panic, social media platforms are rife with misinformation and fake news about the outbreak. Recently, UNICEF called out Malayalam TV actress Sadhika Venugopal for spreading fake information.
To curb this, Mumbai-based startup Haptik, which builds Intelligent Virtual Assistant solutions, launched a WhatsApp hotline last month to provide correct information regarding the novel coronavirus.
The hotline acts as a chatbot, which uses machine learning to process the query and respond accordingly. It provides information on five key areas: what is coronavirus, its symptoms, how to protect yourself, myth busters, and travel advisory.
“One of the things we constantly think about is how do we use AI for good, which is for the betterment of the society at large,” Aakrit Vaish, Co-founder and CEO, Haptik, tells YourStory.
The information is sourced from World Health Organisation (WHO). To obtain information and ask queries, individuals can send a WhatsApp text on 93213-98773.
Nanoclean Global Private Limited
The widespread panic has put the health facilities in India and around the world under stress. This has led to a shortage of protective gear, including face masks. To address the shortage, Delhi-based health startup Nanoclean Global Private Limited has increased the production of Naso mask – an N95/FFP2 grade face mask.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the startup has sold over 5 lakh packs of Naso masks. The startup is retailing the product at Rs 149, and sells the product at a lower cost for bulk orders.
It has also increased the production of its cost-effective product ‘Nasofilter’ to meet the increasing demand.
Prateek Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO of Nanoclean, says that in the last 30 days, the startup has generated a revenue of over Rs 5 crore and is doing 10 times its usual business. “Clearly, the reason is a shortage of face masks supply in the Indian, as well as international market,” he adds.
Bengaluru-based insurtech startup Digit Insurance has rolled out a fixed-benefit health insurance policy designed specifically to cover COVID-19.
The ‘Need-Based Insurance’ cover is available to anyone up to the age of 75. A person who tests positive can claim 100 percent of the insurance, while those quarantined can claim 50 percent of the sum insured.
However, people with pre-existing respiratory conditions or those already exhibiting symptoms of the disease are not covered under the policy. The policy doesn’t cover people who have travelled to its list of countries affected by the outbreak, or contracted the infection from family members who visited the countries in its list.
Bengaluru-based health startup mFine, which enables virtual medical consultation via artificial intelligence (AI), is providing remote doctor consultation to help people answer their queries regarding coronavirus.
It also released a video where doctors bust some common myths regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
Founded in 2017, mFine offers professional diagnostics and health check-up services that can be availed from the comfort of home, office or anywhere else.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)