Hyderabad: In a first, a mobile virology laboratory designed by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in association with  ESIC Hospital at Erragadda in Hyderabad, was put to operation on April 23rd.  In a record time of 15 days, the DRDO built, Bio-Safety Level 2 and Level 3 lab  which usually takes about six months time.  The lab testing facility can process more than 1,000 samples in a day.

According to the makers, The Mobile Lab will be helpful to carry out diagnosis of COVID-19 and also virus culturing for drug screening, Convalescent plasma derived therapy, comprehensive immune profiling of COVID-19 patients towards vaccine development early clinical trials specific to Indian population. This lab can be positioned anywhere in the country, as per requirement.

Sathish Reddy, Chairman of DRDO said, “This Bio-safety Level-3 (BSL3) laboratory is essential for carrying on research on coronavirus as the pathogenicity of COVID-19 is not completely known yet.Apart from screening patients immediately, the laboratory can also be used for conducting research projects related to drug discovery, therapeutics and vaccine development in collaboration with other scientific organisations’.

He further adds, “This first of its kind mobile lab can be moved and scaled up quickly to speed up COVID-19 screening as we have only four BSL3 labs in the country. The labs are built as per WHO and ICMR Bio-safety standards to meet international guidelines. The system has built in electrical controls, LAN, Telephone cabling, and CCTV’ the chairman added..

Earlier, To combat COVID-19, the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad had earlier come up with a COVID sample collection kiosk named COVSACK.

The unit has been developed by DRDL, in consultation with the doctors of ESIC in Hyderabad. COVSACK is a kiosk for use by health care workers for taking COVID-19 samples from suspected infected patients.

Patient under test can walk into the kiosk and a nasal or oral swab is taken by health care professional from outside through the built in gloves.

A spokesperson of DRDL said, “The shielding screen of kiosk cabin protects the health care worker from the aerosols/droplet transmission while taking the sample. This reduces the requirements of PPE change by health care workers. ”

The Kiosk is automatically disinfected without the need for human involvement, making the process free of infection spread.

After the patient leaves the kiosk, four nozzle sprayers mounted in the kiosk cabin disinfect the empty chamber by spraying a disinfectant mist for a period of 70 seconds. It is further flushed with water & UV light disinfection. The system is ready for next use in less than 2 minutes.

Spokesperson from DRDL added, “The voice command can be given through two-way communication system integrated with the COVSACK. It is possible to configure COVSACK to be used either from inside or outside as required by the medical professionals.”

The COVSACK costs nearly Rs 1 Lakh and the industry identified at Belgaum, Karnataka can support 10 units/ day. DRDO has designed and developed two units and handed over the same to ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad after testing.

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