How the Indian startup ecosystem is leading the war on COVID-19 second wave

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From chartering planes to help import oxygen cylinders to providing Covid+ employees with meals, to organising vaccination drives, India is coming together in every way to beat the deadly second wave.

It has been a telling few weeks for India. From the first week of March 2021, when India was declared to be “in the endgame” of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the country now recording the world’s highest number of daily cases, India’s pandemic narrative has been unprecedented, and unimaginable.

With 3,52,991 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, the highest in the world so far, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases has crossed 18 million, and active cases currently stand at over three million, according to the Union Health Ministry data as of April 29, 2021.

The Indian government has opened up vaccination registrations for all individuals above the age of 18 years, with inoculation slated to start from May 1st, 2021.  In the meanwhile, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul indicated in a recent press conference that the time has come that we start wearing masks inside our homes even if there’s no COVID patient. 

“We used to talk about wearing it outside homes, but the way the infection has spread, it will be better if we wear a mask inside our homes if we are sitting with someone,” he said.

In such dire times, hope is a powerful force. Nelson Mandela once said, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”

As the second wave of COVID-19 has started to prove fatal beyond imagination, the Indian startup ecosystem has once again come together to continue igniting the ray of hope.

In discussions with YourStory team, several startup founders shared how they are trying to help the Indian startup ecosystem battle the second wave of COVID-19. 

TrulyMadly’s matchmaking engine to find right plasma donor

Dating app TrulyMadly has deployed its matchmaking algorithm to help COVID-19 patients match plasma donors with patients. The feature has been added to TrulyMadly’s initiative Corona Clusters, which was launched last year to update people on the latest pandemic related data and is used by more than 30 lakh users each month. 

The ‘Plasma Matchmaking’ feature helps both plasma donors and patients find the right. To make the process fast and more efficient, the Plasma Donation feature captures and matches all critical information from both the patient and donor, including their blood group, COVID-19 diagnosis date, location, contact details, and phone number.

Early in the pandemic, the dating app launched a nationwide multilingual website to apprise users about COVID-19 related information, including state-wise segregation of cases and district and state level health bulletins, among others. Corona Clusters uses verified crowdsourced data & APIs from Covid19India.org and shares updates on the number of total active, recovered, and death cases on a real time basis.

Impetus Technologies provides free meals Impetus Technologies started the initiative to provide cooked meals for free to its employees and family members suffering from COVID-19 a month ago.

The procurement of raw items, cooking, packaging and delivering is all taken care of in-house. Employees based out of Indore, Bengaluru, Gurugram, NOIDA and Hyderabad have been benefiting through this noble gesture.   As of today, more than 200 meals are prepared per day, and packed in eco-friendly packaging material and delivered to all the employees and their families affected by COVID-19.

Uber announces 60k free rides utilisation to get vaccinated at authorised centres

Uber recently announced that riders across the country have already utilised more than 60,000 free rides to get vaccinated at authorised centres in both government and private hospitals. Uber first announced its free rides initiative on March 3rd, when it pledged to support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), State Governments and local NGOs with free rides worth INR 10 Crores during India’s ongoing vaccination drive.

In continuation of its commitment to support India’s massive vaccination effort, Uber today also made public a partnership with HelpAge India, a leading national NGO, dedicated to serving the disadvantaged elderly.

Through this partnership, Uber will provide 25,000 free rides over the coming months to facilitate the vaccination of the vulnerable and disadvantaged elderly to and from the nearest vaccination centres in 19 cities. These are Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Dehradun, Jaipur, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Mangalore, Indore, and Jodhpur.

OpraahFx raises more than INR 50 Lakh for COVID relief fund

OpraahFx, an influencer marketing firm, and YouTubers – Slayy Point and Mythpat raised INR 50+ lakhs for COVID-19 relief by bringing together India’s biggest gamers and influencers. Over 35 Indian influencers joined a 7.5-hour YouTube live stream on April 25 and raised funds for Hemkunt Foundation who are providing oxygen supply in the country.

The YouTube live stream was hosted by Slayy Point on Mythpat’s YouTube channel and Influencers like Techno Gamerz, Kusha Kapila, Technical Guruji, Salonayy, Total Gaming, Ashish Chanchlani, Mythpat, Carry Minati, Viraj Ghelani, Abish Mathew, Ankush Bahuguna, BeYouNick, Tanmay Bhatt, Ranveer Allahbadia, Dolly Singh, etc joined the live stream. 

Mi India pledges Rs 3 crores to procure 1000+ oxygen concentrators

Mi India is pledging Rs 3 crores to procure 1000+ oxygen concentrators for hospitals across states. The company is also partnering with Give India to raise 1 crore for COVID Warriors on mi.com. 

The company is also partnering with GiveIndia to raise Rs 1 crore to support frontline covid workers in the country. The donation page will be live on mi.com.

Paytm to import 3000 oxygen concentrators

Paytm aims to raise Rs 10 crore and import 3,000 oxygen concentrators for government and private hospitals, COVID-19 care centres, NGOs, and resident welfare associations, as part of its initiative called ‘Oxygen for India’.

The fintech decacorn has invited its users to donate money on its platform, and said it will match each contribution made, rupee for rupee. The startup has already placed an order to import 1,000 oxygen concentrators worth Rs 4 crore, it said. So far, users have already contributed up to Rs 1.5 crore, and the Paytm Foundation has matched that amount to a total of Rs 3 crore.

CRED to raise funds for buying oxygen concentrators

Bengaluru-based CRED has launched an initiative to raise funds to buy oxygen concentrators for healthcare organisations. The startup has invited its members to donate their CRED coins towards buying oxygen-related equipment, which will be facilitated by Milaap. The initiative aims to raise funds to procure equipment to produce one billion litres of oxygen.

MapmyIndia offers free GPS tracking

Indian navigation and telematics company MapmyIndia will be installing GPS tracking systems for free in transport vehicles carrying oxygen, vaccines, hospital beds, and other medical infrastructure to ensure their smooth, quick, and interrupted movement.

Those looking to avail of this service can write to [email protected] or call +91 9999333223 with their company or vehicle details. MapmyIndia will then align installation and live tracking dashboard teams to get the service working as soon as it can and prevent delays in essential medical equipment reaching wherever the need is. website or app developers can integrate the locations of nearby COVID vaccination centres on their web apps through MapmyIndia.

Amazon teams up with industry, NGOs to bring 10,000 oxygen concentrators

Amazon has joined hands with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, Pune Platform for COVID-19 Response (PPCR), and other partners to urgently airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore. 

The medical equipment will be donated to hospitals and public institutions to augment their capacity to help COVID-19 infected patients across multiple cities. Majority of the shipping is expected to be completed by April 30.

Amazon said it would bear the cost of airlifting these machines, procured through multiple funders including ACT Grants and PPCR, from Singapore to India, through Air India and other international carriers.

Additionally, Amazon will also manage the movement of these oxygen concentrators and other donations from the local airport to identified hospitals and institutions. Amazon India is also procuring over 1,500 oxygen concentrators and other critical medical equipment that will be donated to hospitals and medical facilities in partnership with multiple non-profits including Swasth, Concern India and impact organisations like ACT Grants and Sattva Consulting.

Democracy People Foundation begins with ‘Mission Oxygen’

Democracy People Foundation has started an initiative called ‘Mission Oxygen’ to help hospitals across the country get immediate access to oxygen concentrators. Led by a group of founders, Democracy People Foundation comprises Rahul Aggarwal and Varun Aggarwal of Designhill; Uday Anand, Founder, Crush Fitness India; Shikher Gupta, Founder, Cuttlefish; and Satvacart Founder Rahul Hari Saxena.  

The team, which set out to procure 100 oxygen concentrators initially, has managed to procure 500 concentrators from China. The requirement has now shot up to 5,000 concentrators for 14 hospitals, as well as supplying them to the Maharashtra and Delhi governments.

MediBuddy launches slew of initiatives to combat COVID-19 second wave

The digital healthcare platform launched a ‘COVID-19 Hospital Bed Availability Checker’ on their mobile app to help users locate available beds. According to the official statement, the feature will provide real-time details on the availability of beds at nearby hospitals.  

In order to ensure that people have easy access to medical advice, the company also launched a 24×7 helpline support, where users can call and get coronavirus-related consultation for free for the first 30 mins of the call. 

Apart from this, it will now also enable users to book COVID-19 tests both at home and onsite. MediBuddy also introduced a Coronavirus Risk Assessment Tool to help the users pre-screen and assess the level of risk.

Mylab to deploy 50 high-volume mobile testing labs for COVID-19 across India

Pune-based molecular diagnostics company Mylab Discovery Solutions on Friday said it plans to deploy 50 ICMR-approved and NABL certified mobile testing labs across the country to meet the huge backlog in RT-PCR testing amid rising cases of COVID-19. 

These labs are “powered by automated Compact XL machines, which test three times faster than the conventional labs due to parallel processing and automated handling,” Mylab said in a statement. Each mobile lab can process as many as 1,500 to 3,000 tests per day, it added. The company has already made two labs functional in Mumbai, and three more are being rolled out within this week – one each in Pune, Mumbai, and Goa.

C-CAMP InDx announces mass-scale availability of diagnostic kits

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms or C-CAMP, on behalf of Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster, has enabled mass-scale availability of indigenously developed, ICMR/DCGI-approved COVID-19 diagnostic kits for government and private diagnostic labs that are facing any shortfall due to the increased number of cases across India. 

The initiative is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Indigenisation of Diagnostics program or CCAMP-InDx in conjunction with the National Biomedical Resources Consortium (N-BRIC). These kits are now directly accessible through the CCAMP-InDx deployed marketplace platform, which was designed pro-bono by TCS and connects kit buyers immediately with manufacturers.

Action COVID-19 Team Grants steps up again to battle COVID-19

Action COVID-19 Team (ACT) Grants stepped up its efforts to support hospitals across India by enabling a supplement medical workforce, and sourcing oxygen concentrators from abroad. ACT is a social change movement involving India’s startup ecosystem to enable change makers who use their time, talent, and resources to mobilise solutions to fight the pandemic.

It was set up last March to minimise the impact of COVID-19 by raising Rs 100 crore from 34 founders and leaders, 44 funds, and 37 strategic partners. It now has a base of 100 volunteers, apart from a five-member COVID-19 Prospecting Team. In its latest mission, ACT Grants set up a payment link late last night, enabled by RazorPay, for corporates and institutional donors as part of its plan to raise Rs 75 crore ($10 million).

Zomato joins Delhivery to raise Rs 50 Cr to source oxygen concentrators

Zomato has announced that it has kickstarted the “Help Save My India” mission through its  not-for-profit arm Feeding India in association with Delhivery to source oxygen concentrators and related supplies to help hospitals and families in need.

In a tweet, Zomato’s Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said that the startup will raise Rs 50 crore in the next few days and that domestic donors can go to this link to donate, and the company will shortly share a link for international donors on their Feeding India handle. He added that startups and companies, who want to join hands in this effort, can reach out to him at [email protected], or write to the team at [email protected]

Tata Group to import 24 cryogenic containers

Tata Group announced that it was importing 24 cryogenic containers to transport liquid oxygen. In a similar initiative to address the oxygen shortage, Tata Steel also announced that it will supply 200-300 tons of liquid medical oxygen to various state governments and hospitals. In a similar effort, billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries has tweaked the manufacturing at its Jamnagar oil refineries to produce over 700 tons a day of medical-grade oxygen, which is supplied free of cost to states badly affected by COVID-19. Delhivery charters two planes to help import oxygen compressors Delhivery will be flying two planes from China to provide logistical support for importing oxygen concentrators. The company is doing this at minimal margins for compressors and other essentials, and have a spare capacity as things stand. In case the demand far exceeds the current supply, he said that the company can arrange for additional flights as well.

Rodic Consultant develops first of its kind “Oxygen Monitoring System for UP

Rodic Consultant Private Limited has developed a first-of-its-kind digital portal “Oxygen Monitoring System for UP”  to ensure hassle-free and timely supply of oxygen in Uttar Pradesh. The unique platform will regularly monitor and track the real-time location of vehicles so that oxygen reaches hospitals without any delay especially during emergencies. 

The company has developed the platform with support from Food Safety and Drug Administration, Department of Medical Education, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Transport and Home Department of Uttar Pradesh. Rodic’s representatives will be available round the clock to ensure an easy supply of oxygen to government and private hospitals in a timely manner. A web portal/link has been developed for “Oxygen Monitoring System for UP”.

This link will directly connect the needy with officers/workers who are in charge of the oxygen supply chain in the state. All the details will be regularly uploaded on the portal by the company’s representatives. By tracking availability online, delivery vehicles will be assigned to the nearest location to avoid emergencies. Additionally, vehicles assigned with the task of oxygen supply will be closely monitored through the platform to meet the requirements as soon as possible. The company is also ramping up its efforts to increase the number of drivers to ensure hassle-free supply.

Other areas where Indian companies are coming forward are:

CapitaLand India: Prioritising employees’ safety and health during these tough times, CapitaLand organised a vaccination drive for its employees, their families and support staff. The initiative was conducted in association with the Bangalore Municipal Corporation at the International Tech Park Bangalore (ITPB).

NoBroker: NoBrokerHOOD — the visitor, society, and payments management app by NoBroker.com – has announced that it will be organising vaccination drives across societies in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Delhi-NCR.

Vaccination at doorstep started with two societies in Bangalore on April 24, 2021 and will continue through the coming months. The vaccines will be administered by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved labs with trained medical professionals at the helm while observing high standards of safety and covid protocol at no extra cost.

Emoha Elder Care: Emoha is working with partners to set up Covid isolation hubs across Delhi. Along with other assisted services, the platform is helping elders at various stages of the vaccination process. Right from the registration process to accompanying elders to the vaccination centre, waiting in long queues for their vaccination turn and being around with them for the 30 minute post-vaccination observation period.

Moreover, the team at Emoha Elder Care is also involved in making regular health monitoring calls post-vaccination; arranging doctor visits and calls if it is requested by elders and closing all the booking formalities for the second shot of vaccination. Till now, the platform has been successful in assisting over 500 elders residing across Delhi, NCR get vaccinated without any hassle.

Exalta: New Delhi-based Exalta has developed a portable mini ventilator with an inbuilt oxygen concentrator. A water-based pure oxygen concentrator, the mini ventilator provides 1 to 8 litres of oxygen per minute. All that one needs to do is put water inside the ventilator and it will process the rest on its own. It creates pure oxygen through the water like other oxygen concentrators found in the market based on Normal PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption). They consist of a Pressure exhaust mechanism that draws oxygen from normal air with a zeolite process. Zeolite is the process that purifies the air and removes other gases into a compressor.

IISER Bhopal: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Bhopal have developed an affordable oxygen concentrator to meet the high demand for medical oxygen amid a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The device, which is estimated to cost less than Rs 20,000, can provide 93-95 percent pure oxygen with a flow rate of up to 3 litre/minute, they said. According to the team, the device, which costs around Rs 60,000-70,000 at present, has been developed as a solution to tackle the oxygen shortage amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HealthcareAtHome: Noida-based healthtech company HealthCare atHOME (HCAH) has set up a facility equipped with oxygen concentrators by converting a hotel in Gurugram. COVID-19 positive patients who require oxygen are given assistance in this unit. It is treating about 125 patients at the moment.

IIT Kharagpur: IIT Kharagpur has successfully commercialised its flagship healthcare product COVIRAP, the novel diagnostic technology to zero on infectious diseases including COVID-19, the institute said Wednesday. The product, developed by lead researchers Professor Suman Chakraborty, Dr Arindam Mondal and their research group, has been licensed for commercialisation to the Rapid Diagnostic Group of Companies, India and Bramerton Holdings LLC, USA.

Contribution by Meha Agarwal

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