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Science Monitor: 29 May 2021

Science Monitor: 29 May 2021

1. Antimicrobial Air Purifier developed by IIT Kanpur and IIT Bombay:

Context:

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the epidemic of Mucormycosis or black fungus is also presenting a huge challenge. In order to present a safe and effective solution against such microbial infections, a startup incubated at IIT, Kanpur has designed and developed an anti-microbial air purifier using proprietary safe technology developed by IIT, Bombay researchers. Now, this device provides real-time protection against airborne diseases and can prove to be an acid especially in the hospitals.

About the Air Purifier:

  • The outbreak of the novel coronavirus hasn't even subsided and the black fungus infection has made the pandemic more severe. During the entire pandemic, many other types of microbial infections have also been seen alongside the viral disease.  Along with finding solutions to tackle COVID-19, Indian researchers are working on war footing to find solutions for other infections too.

  • In this direction, AiRTH, a company incubated by SIIC-IIT, Kanpur has claimed to develop the world's first anti-microbial air purification system in collaboration with researchers at IIT, Bombay. According to AiRTH, the air purifier is capable of trapping and destroying disease causing microbes from the surrounding air including viruses and fungi.

  • The air purifier uses Sanitization for Airborne Virus Elimination (SAVE) technology developed by IIT, Bombay. In just 5 minutes, it can detect and destroy pathogens being discharged into the air by humans or other factors.

  • Unlike other purifiers, the device works according to Deactivate-Capture-Deactivate (DCD) mechanism.

    • 1st stage: It recognizes and deactivates the microbes.

    • 2nd stage: Microbes are captured in a germ-specific filter.

    • 3rd stage: Germs are deactivated once again.

  • Its special filters are capable of capturing small viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. During testing in two different laboratories, this air purifier has been found to be capable of air purification up to 99.87 percent. The purifier can provide clean air in an area of 600 square feet.

  • It has been observed that sanitizing surfaces in high viral load settings such as hospitals and congested indoors is not enough as the disease can also spread through virus or fungi laden aerosols.

  • Sanitation systems involving fumigation and UVC lights are harmful for the humans and therefore, they cannot be used when people are present in a setting but AiRTH’s air purifier is free of such drawbacks and can be used continuously in any kind of indoor setting in the presence of humans as well.  That is why, this purifier can be used in places like hospitals and intensive care units without disturbing the patients.

2. IIT Delhi's study maps the effects of nature on the human brain:

Context:

According to a recent study by IIT Delhi, experiencing nature helps in overcoming distractions and also in building focus. The research was conducted by user experience lab of IIT Delhi and examined the brain activity of participants during their nature experience.

See the source imageAbout the study:

  • Nature holds a special place in Indian culture and the Indian civilization has blossomed in the lap of trees over centuries. The cognitive effects of nature have now been proved by science as well. It has now been proven that functions of the mind improve when we spend some time with nature. This is especially helpful in lifting the mood of the people in the midst of a pandemic as they are spending majority of their time indoors.

  • The recent study conducted at the User Experience lab of IIT Delhi shows that spending time in the midst of nature every day helps us in a big way to overcome distractions and build focus on our tasks.

  • Researchers have found that in addition to loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic, the increased use of television and other electronic gadgets has also upped the risk of short attention spans, especially in children.

  • During the study, participants were made to experience nature through audio visual medium and their brain activity was mapped. Researchers found that there was a significant positive change in brain activity during the tests than before the experiment.

  • This proved that even a small interaction with the nature like a walk in the park, nurturing your home-grown plants or just admiring the beauty of plants and trees, not only calms down our mind but also improves its performance.

  • The findings of the study have recently been published in the research journal Annals of NEUROSCIENCES. According to scientists, human brain has actually been designed to love nature and this phenomenon is called Biophilia.

3. First Made-in-India COVID-19 test kit by Mylab gets commercial approval:

Context:

Pune-based molecular diagnostics company Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd, which specialises in molecular diagnostic kits, has developed first “Made in India” self-test kit for COVID-19 coronavirus disease.

Covid home testing

About the kit:

  • The kit was recently approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research. This diagnostic test kit named ‘CoviSelf’ is based on Rapid Antigen Tests and can be used at home by following simple instructions. The home test involves quick checks by the company generated mobile application using nasal swab.

  • The test results are made available on your mobile within 15 minutes. The test costs just Rs 250. According to the company, the kit will soon be available at more than 7 lakh pharmacies in the country and it can also be purchased online.

  • According to ICMR, there is no need to undergo an RT-PCR test if the result on this kit turns out to be positive. However, it would be unwise to use this kit indiscriminately. When necessary, the test should be performed according to the instructions provided with the kit.

4.Science Express

1. World No-Tobacco Day Awards for 2021 recognizes advances in tobacco control:

See the source image

  • As part of the global control efforts recognized on World No Tobacco Day on May 31st, the World Health Organization has released region-wise list of awardees appreciating their achievements in the area of tobacco control.

  • This time India's Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan has been selected for the WHO Director General special recognition award along with University of BATH's Tobacco Control Research Group.

  • Names of organizations and individuals belonging to 6 WHO regions have also been announced for World No Tobacco Day Awards. The list of awardees in the southeast Asia region includes 2 Indian organizations namely, Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association and the State Tobacco Control Cell of Uttar Pradesh.

  • The use of tobacco has increased many types of cancer and health problems all over the world. In 1988, to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic, a resolution was passed by the World Health Assembly to celebrate May 31st as World No Tobacco Day.

3. First Made-in-India COVID-19 test kit by Mylab gets commercial approval:

  • According to studies conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder, about 2 percent of COVID infected people were found to carry 90 percent of the SARS-COV-2 virus thereby, making them super carriers of the disease-causing pathogen.

  • Researchers studied more than 72,000 specimens and found that individuals with high viral loads were very likely responsible for spreading mass infections, while many other infected with the COVID-19 did not spread the infection at all.

  • A study also examined the tendency of University students to spread infection among their peers. The findings showed that students who had 7 times the viral loads than the other students were primarily responsible for spreading the infection to their roommates.

  • This has led to a speculation that super carriers of COVID-19 virus may also be the perfect super spreaders, so if one comes in contact with a super spreader, it will be difficult to avoid contracting the infection.

  • Worryingly, super spreaders can also be asymptomatic which is why they cannot be easily identified to stop the spread of the infection. So, social distancing and following COVID safety protocol seems to be the only way of protection.

3. Importance of nature and culture-based solutions for biodiversity conservation discussed on International Day of Biological Diversity:

See the source image

  • On 22nd May, an event was organized by the Department of Science and Technologies-Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology and DBT-BioNest on the occasion of International Biodiversity Day.

  • A renowned scientist from Wildlife Institute of India also gave a talk on Biodiversity and Technology: Towards Integrated Nature-Culture Solutions.  It should also be noted that to mark the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India's independence, all the institutes are celebrating the Amrit festival of independence on days special to them.

  • Under this seminar which was organized online, the importance of conservation of biodiversity and its various aspects and its relationship with technology and sustainable development was discussed extensively. The program emphasized the importance of nature and culture-based measures for the conservation of biodiversity.

  • The Guwahati based Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology is an autonomous research institute of the Department of Science and Technology working prominently on Biodiversity and Ecosystems.

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