Current Affairs July 2020 - Science & Technology


1 - ICMR to launch indigenous Covid-19 vaccine for public use by Aug 15


Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR is planning to launch indigenous Covid-19 vaccine for public use by the 15th of August after completion of all clinical trials. ICMR has partnered with Bharat Biotech International Limited to develop this path breaking, Covid-19 vaccine.

This is the first indigenous vaccine being developed in India and one of the top priority projects of the government. The vaccine is derived from a SARS-COV2 strain isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune.

2 - IIT Gandhinagar developed AI based tool to detect Covid-19 from chest X-ray

IIT Gandhinagar

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) - based deep learning tool for detection of Covid-19 from Chest X-ray images. This online tool indicates the probability, if a person is infected with Covid-19.

The IIT researchers pooled the data of X-ray images of COVID-19 infected patients as well as healthy persons from different sources available on the internet. They trained a machine learning architecture using deep learning algorithms with these images.

3 - Mylab launched India’s first machine to automate Molecular Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic Tests

Mylab Discovery Solutions launched ‘Compact XL’ - India’s first machine to automate the manual processes of molecular diagnostic tests such as RT-PCR tests for Covid-19.

Compact XL is a compact bench-top machine that will automate lab processes from sample handling to preparing RT-PCR ready tubes. It is a cartridge-based machine and can test multiple samples at the same time. It can be used for a wide range of RNA/DNA-based tests. It will eliminate traditional barriers to the adoption of molecular diagnostics at labs and address any potential demand-supply gaps of highly skilled technicians for testing.

4 - World’s first reusable PPE Kit launched

Reusable PPE Kit

India’s Loyal Textile Mills Limited in collaboration with Reliance Industries India and HeiQ from Switzerland, launched world’s first reusable PPE kit with Triple Viral Shield Technology. ‘VIRAL SHIELD’ comprises of Covid-19 anti-viral and reusable personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and protective fashion wear range.

An antiviral spray technology has also been developed for garments. PPEs can be washed and sterilised 10 times, whereas masks can be washed 25 times. It has 95 % particulate filtration efficiency and 99.9% bacterial filtration efficiency.

5 - IIT Kanpur developed UV sanitising device 'SHUDDH'

UV Sanitising Device

The Imagineering Laboratory department of IIT Kanpur has developed an Ultraviolet (UV) sanitising product named "SHUDH". SHUDH stands for Smartphone operated Handy Ultraviolet Disinfection Helper. It has six UV lights of 15 Watts each that can be individually monitored from a distance.

The device at its full operation can disinfect a 10x10 squared feet room in about 15 minutes. SHUDH can assist in killing the spread of corona virus at the highly prone places such as hospitals, hotels, malls, offices and schools.

6 - ISRO to launch Amazonia-1 satellite of Brazil

Satellite of Brazil

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Brazil’s Amazonia - 1 satellite onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Amazonia-1 will be the first satellite for Earth Observation that is designed, assembled and tested in Brazil.

The Brazilian satellite will help in observing and monitoring the deforestation of the Amazon Region as well as in the agricultural and vegetation areas. India and Brazil signed a Framework Agreement for co-operation in the field of outer space in January 2004.

7 - Zydus Cadila began human trials of its potential Covid-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D


Zydus Cadilla started human trials of its potential Covid-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D. The plasmid DNA vaccine ZyCoV-D, designed and developed by Zydus and partially funded by the Department of Biotechnology is the second potential vaccine candidate after Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN, which got the approval for human clinical trial by the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation.

ZyCoV-D is developed indigenously at the company's Vaccine Technology Centre in Ahmedabad after completing the preclinical phase. The vaccine was found to elicit a strong immune response in multiple animal species like mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits.

8 - HRD Ministry launched world's most affordable COVID-19 diagnostic kit corosure

COVID-19 Diagnostic Kit Corosure

Union Human Resource Development Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal'Nishank' e-launched the world’s most affordable RT-PCR based COVID-19 diagnostic kit developed by IIT Delhi and approved by the ICMR and DCGI. Corosure diagnostic kit developed by IIT Delhi, will be now available for use by the authorised testing labs.

The base price of the RT-PCR assay is Rs. 399 excluding the RNA isolation and laboratory charges. IIT Delhi has given license to ten companies to manufacture COVID-19 diagnostic kit, using the technology developed by its researchers.

9 - Indian Scientists developed low cost capacitor from industrial waste cotton

Industrial Waste Cotton

Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials developed a simple, low-cost, environmentally friendly, and sustainable super-capacitor electrode derived from industrial waste cotton, which can be used as an energy harvester storage device. Super-capacitor is a next-generation energy storage device.

For the first time, natural seawater is explored as an environmentally friendly aqueous electrolyte. Seawater based super-capacitor shows very good durability upon 10,000 charge-discharge cycles with 99% of capacitance retention.

10 - DCGI approved India's first indigenously developed pneumonia vaccine

Drug Controller General of India

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has accorded its approval to the country's first fully indigenously developed vaccine against pneumonia. The Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine (PPSV23) has been developed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

The vaccine offers protection against 23 types of pneumonia-causing bacteria. The vaccine has been pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in December 2019. A Special Expert Committee (SEC) of DCGI reviewed the phase I, II and III clinical trial data submitted by SII.

11 - IIT Madras start-up developed portable Covid hospital

Portable Covid Hospital

An Indian Institute of Technology Madras-incubated start-up Modulus Housing has developed a portable hospital unit called ‘MediCAB’ that can be installed anywhere within two hours by four people. It is a decentralised approach to detect, screen, identify, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients in their local communities through these portable microstructures.

The hospital unit is foldable and is composed of four zones - a doctor's room, an isolation room, a medical room/ward and a twin-bed ICU, maintained at negative pressure. It was launched recently in Wayanad District of Kerala.

12 - THSTI Faridabad developed synthetic peptide-based vaccine candidate targeting Corona Virus


Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad has developed a synthetic peptide-based vaccine candidate targeting Corona Virus. The potential vaccine targets the spike domain of the Virus to generate an immune response that could block the viral invasion.

The multi-epitope based vaccine candidate was developed by stitching the desired peptides to produce the protein. This approach generates potential neutralising antibodies and also reduces antibody-dependent pulmonary immune pathology.

13 - Oxford Covid-19 vaccine’s human trial shows positive result

Oxford Covid-19 Vaccines

The human trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford and backed by AstraZeneca Plc has shown a positive result. The vaccine is officially named as AZD1222. It has showed protective immune response in hundreds of people who received vaccine dose.

AZD1222 will protects against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection. The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England.

14 - India’s first in-orbit space debris monitoring and tracking system

Monitoring and Tracking System

Space startup called Digantara developed India's first in-orbit Space Debris Monitoring and tracking system, which is based on LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. The tracking system will involve tracking of both aircraft and space objects and provide global real-time earth coverage by deploying a constellation of cost-efficient nanosatellites in LEO (Low Earth Orbit).

Funds of Rs. 25 lakhs were provided to start up for developing tracking system. Digantara Research and Technologies Pvt Ltd. is a first Indian private company with a mission to secure long-term spaceflight safety by developing space debris tracking and monitoring services.

15 - Gennova’s vaccine candidate likely to commence clinical trials by year-end

Clinical Trials

Pune based, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has developed, first of its kind, messenger-RNA based COVID-19 potential Vaccine candidate, HGCO19. Clinical trials of the vaccine candidate are likely to commence by this year-end.

HGCO19 uses self-replicating messenger-RNA platform’ ensuring low injectable dosage and sustained antigen release. Gennova has developed the vaccine candidate working in collaboration with HDT Biotech of the USA. Department of Biotechnology has facilitated development of the vaccine candidate under the Ind-CEPI mission.

16 - NASA Mission to study the Cosmos with a Stratospheric Balloon


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working on a mission that will take an 8.4-foot telescope high into the stratosphere. The telescope will be sent onboard a football stadium-size balloon. The telescope will observe wavelengths that are not visible from the ground.

The mission is named Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths (ASTHROS). It is scheduled to blast off from Antarctica in December 2023. The mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

17 - COVISHIELD: India to take up clinical trials of OXFORD Vaccine

Clinical Trials of Oxford Vaccine

Serum Institute of India (SII) has sought permission for 'phase 2/3' clinical trials of Oxford vaccine in India. At least 1,600 participants will determine the safety of 'Covishield'. The clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on humans began in April.

Oxford University announced the satisfactory progress with the vaccine, making it one of the leading ones among the dozens of vaccine candidates being developed around the world. The vaccine will cost less than Rs. 1,000 for a shot.

18 - DST selected Bengaluru based startup to develop COVID risk assessment app

Startup to Develop COVID App

The Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) has selected Bengaluru-based startup Acculi Labs to develop a COVID-19 risk assessment profile called ‘Lyfas COVID score’. CAWACH is an initiative by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The 'Lyfas' COVID score will detect the possible infection in an asymptomatic individual. Lyfas is an Android application, which captures the capillary pulse and blood volume change, when one keeps the index finger on the rear camera of a mobile phone for five minutes.