Indian startup develops tech to complete COVID-19 sero survey of 1 crore samples in a week
Indian IT startup Thalamus Irwine claims to have developed an AI and IoT-based solution to complete a sero survey with one crore samples of COVID-19 cases within a week.
The Delhi-based company has partnered with state-run ITI to host its data and also done a proof of concept with the public sector firm.
"We have developed an AI-based system to analyse samples tested for COVID-19 within a few microseconds. We connect our AI-Internet of Things (IoT) platform, Garuda, with our partner device that analyses data in real time. Through our technology, we can conduct sero survey with 1 crore actual samples in a week," Thalamus Irwine chairman Rishabh Sharma told PTI.
Sero surveys, or seroprevalence studies, are based on analysis of antibodies collected through blood sample collection.
Sharma said data can be extrapolated over a large population to understand the movement of coronavirus across the country.
"The antibodies test shows if a person is infected with the virus or had been infected in the past. It can help in detection of exposure of COVID-19 in asymptomatic people as well. This survey can be used for prioritising vaccine distribution as well," Sharma said.
The company has partnered with Korean biotechnology firm Boditech Med Incorporated for hardware that can be deployed for conducting the test using blood samples.
Sharma said that Thalamus Irwine technology converted Boditech's device into an IoT device and linked it back to the AI platform for analysis of data collected within a few microseconds.
"We are also in talks with some other companies to link their device with our Garuda platform," Sharma said.
ITI claims Thalamus Irwine to be the world's fastest COVID-19 sero survey. The data collected by Thalamus Irwine will be hosted on ITI datacentres.
"We are pleased to become Official Data Infrastructure Partner of Garuda because when we combine Garuda's IoT and AI backend along with our state-of-the-art datacentre facilities, what we have at our hand is one of the world's fastest COVID-19 sero survey platforms. Also, it is the only platform that is AI and IoT enabled, which can do large-scale sero surveys of one crore people in just one week's time with over 12,000 computation nodes," ITI chairman and managing director R M Agrawal commented on the platform.
Agrawal said that Garuda has also been integrated with Aadhaar already via ITI's Aadhaar services.
"We are continuing to find new use cases," he said.
Sharma said that the device for test in the field can be operated by just a phlebotomist. The test checks IgG and IgM antibodies. The IgM antibodies are the first antibodies produced by the immune system when a virus attacks a human body and IgG are positive after the infection is over.
"To achieve the scale of one crore tests, we need to operate 12,000 nodes or devices for seven hours per day. The technology can separately detect around more health conditions of individuals. This can help the government understand the health map of the country by one-time investment. The test also detects virus load in individuals and helps prepare a database of potential donors for plasma therapy. All data will be safely hosted at ITI datacentres," he said.
Sharma said that the cost of the test will be around Rs 1,000 per individual but real-time data analysis can help government or large organisations plan their strategy around the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The price of devices can be lowered further if we start making them in the country. The cost also depends on a number of factors like server hosting cost. We have set a certain threshold level. If we achieve that threshold level, we can start manufacturing the hardware in India. I already have approvals in place to get the devices made in India," Sharma said.