Here’s what researchers at IIT Guwahati are doing to tackle the COVID-19 problem

Vaccines, advanced face masks, sanitisers – IIT Guwahati is working on multiple fronts to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to almost all countries around the world, with the number of cases increasing by a bigger margin. Currently, the total number of cases in India has gone up to 753, with 20 deaths reported as per Worldometer. In these testing times, many IITs across India are working on different ways to tackle the virus – from developing sanitisers to finding a cure.

A team of researchers at IIT Guwahati, led by Professor Sachin Kumar, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, are working towards developing a vaccine, along with developing rapid detection and portable diagnostic kits for different types of viruses and microorganisms.

"We haven't started the work on the vaccine yet. We are analysing the data. We are analysing the sequence of coronavirus from samples from Kerala and China. It is also difficult to say how much time the vaccine will take to be fully functional. However, the diagnostic could be done fast. Currently, what we have is a realtime PCR based-diagnostic for CoV-2 detection," Professor Sachin told Edex Live.

The team consists of PhD students, MTech students, Junior Research Fellows and Post Doctoral Fellows. Recently, the team had developed a vaccine against Japanese encephalitis and classical swine fever virus, and their research was published in the journals Vaccine and Archives of Virology, respectively. The researchers are trying to learn if they can use the same tool that they had developed for the encephalitis so that it could be used for COVID-19 as well.

And it’s not just the vaccine that they are working on, but they are also working to develop the first line of protection.

According to NorthEast Now, the institute had tweeted about a prototype of a Faceshield that they had developed, as per the guidelines of WHO. Led by Dr Supradip Das of the Department of Design, the team plans to create about 100 pieces in the first run.

The institute, like many others, has already created hand sanitisers as prescribed by the WHO. These sanitisers are distributed to everyone on the campus, including visitors.

India still has long way to go when it comes to fighting the pandemic, but the consistent research efforts by the many institutions give hope to the cause.

(Edited by Kanishk Singh)

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