Till the scond week of June, the world had seen 17.8 crore COVID-19 cases and witnessed 38.6 lakh deaths due to the devastating pandemic. The much worse second wave of COVID-19 exposed the faults in our healthcare system. Throughout the past two years, the vulnerability of our healthcare workers has been tried and tested as the pandemic put a huge physical and psychological burden on them. According to the WHO, nearly 1,15,000 healthcare workers have died due to covid since the pandemic began last year. And yet, lakhs of healthcare workers continue to risk their lives to save patients every day. We hail the healthcare workers, showered flowers on them but little do we know of their struggles and frustrations. Many healthcare professionals we spoke to during the past year have shared their helplessness due to a lack of means and tools to save lives.
We owe them so much and yet many in India lack basic protection and are attacked mercilessly for doing their job. We hail their sacrifices and dedicate this issue to all those warriors who have worked tirelessly to bring peace to the dying and heal our suffering. These are the heroes of our issue this month. We bring you some of the amazing work in healthcare in the past year. We hope it resonates with a lot of healthcare workers not only in India but around the world.
Remembering Dr KK Agarwal
Dr KK Aggarwal, the selfless man who healed thousands, though succumbed to covid, ensured, till his last breath, that the fight against the deadly virus goes on Dr KK Aggarwal was popular among fellow doctors, journalists and the healthcare fraternity. The 62-year-old succumbed to covid after a prolonged illness at AIIMS. Padma Shri awardee Dr KK Aggarwal famous dialogue ‘Picture abhi baaki hai. The show must go on’ caught everyone unaware that it would be his last public interaction.
A cardiologist by profession, Dr Aggarwal was the head of the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). He received the Dr BC Roy Award in 2005 and the Padma Shri in 2010.
Dr Agarwal was very active in social media posting various health-related issues including covid and sending emails to his knowhows besides posting videos. He was able to be in touch with a large user base with his daily dose of health topics and preventive measures.
Waging a concerted war against the corona pandemic
COVID-19 may have thrown the entire world in turmoil, but this is hardly the time to rest or take a back seat for those in the healthcare industry. From January 2020 onwards, J Mitra & Company has been waging a concerted war against the corona pandemic. In the past 18-odd months, J Mitra has introduced path-breaking products to cater to various aspects of COVID-19 detection, and most of these products are industry-firsts and industry-leaders in India.
The products include:
- India’s first total antibody Covid-19 [IgM, IgG, IgA] Microlisa Elisa test kit developed jointly with the International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (ICGEB).
- Covid Kawach IgG Microlisa Covid-19 test kit developed by ICMR-NIV
- COVID-19 Neutralizing Antibody Microlisa Elisa Test is India’s first commercial laboratory test to detect
neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Virus neutralisation is
considered the gold standard for determining antibody efficacy.
- Covid-19 Ag Microlisa, Elisa Test kit, offers high Sensitivity, Specificity, and accuracy equivalent to RT-PCR
tests, at costs comparable to Rapid tests.
- COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test
The company also launched two covid test instruments – the Elisa Washer and the Elisa Reader, apart from the other secondary tests for the management of COVID-19, like D-Dimer. Some products are under development or awaiting validations and approvals.
J Mitra utilised several parameters and factors to drive their technology decisions: potency, accuracy, sensitivity and specificity, ease of use, infrastructure requirement at the userend, final cost at patient-end, and other similar considerations. As a result, every product introduced by the company has the highest ratings in sensitivity and specificity, making them the best performing products in the market.
Significant credit for these products and performances goes to the R&D team headed by Lalit Mahajan. With such corporate performance driven by Jatin Mahajan at the helm as Managing Director, J Mitra & Company has emerged as the company with the highest number of COVID-19 related solutions available in the country and a noteworthy corona warrior organisation.
Dr Manoj Gopalkrishnan, Professor, IIT-Bombay
Dr Manoj Gopalkrishnan, a professor at the IIT-Bombay and an expert in mathematics, computational and data
science and molecular science, came up with a new COVID testing approach that would save money, time and resources, while quickly providing accurate results. His research team developed an algorithm called Tapestry that allows several tests to be screened at the same time using existing kits. Tapestry could accurately identify any positives without the need for additional followup screenings – a breakthrough.
Tapestry’s patented technology was validated with the help of leading research institutions in India and the US. Its innovative approach has been highlighted by articles in leading international scientific forums like Nature. Tapestry was named as one of the 10 finalists for the XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing competition. It has since obtained regulatory approvals and is being deployed across campuses and offices across the country with the help of reputed labs. Today, through his startup Algorithmic Biologics, DrGopalkrishnan is making it possible for
offices and campuses to open safely through affordable and regular testing.
GEN WORKS: Affordable robust solutions
The last 16+ months have transformed the way this country approaches healthcare delivery. While the first wave saw a big demand for breathing devices, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and personal hygiene products like sanitisers and disinfectants, the second wave crippled us with an even more basic yet difficult issue – a demand for medical oxygen.
With the COVID-19 challenge upon us, the GenWorks leadership decided to take up the opportunity to be the front runners. From sourcing PPE to bridge the supply-demand gap to creating awareness on rapid testing and allied blood tests for COVID-19 management, stitching a partnership with Wipro 3D for their novel emergency breathing assistance system air bridge or promote the value of handheld ultrasound systems for quick, point-of-care testing, GenWorks did all of this and more.
The start-up put together partnerships with manufacturers, tied up operations and supply chain contingencies, and embraced all digital means of customer communications to ensure affordability and fair pricing of any solution promoted.
Blood tests such as CBC, ESR, CRP, D-Dimer, Urea, Creatinine, SGOT, SGPT and CT scans were an important diagnostic tool for early diagnosis and to determine treatment protocol to prevent deaths. GenWorks ramped up the IVD portfolio with Iris acquisition and leveraged partnership with GE to support CT scanners across the country.
The startup also stepped up efforts in government business and supplied 100 airbridge devices to the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala, thanks to the visionary efforts of Shashi Tharoor. GenWorks imported oxygen concentrators; it was ensured that high quality devices are procured having international certifications, and at the same time keep it highly affordable.
Preparing for the probable third wave, GenWorks’ focus is not only on treatment solutions but also on pulmonary rehabilitation and function assessment – brought to life by the partnership with Vyaire Medical for their range of pulmonary function assessment solutions.
NephroPlus: Dialysis on-call amidst covid pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed mayhem in the entire world. We realised we had to step up to face this headon. NephroPlus prepared clinical SOPs for screening, detecting, and managing patients with COVID-19. The SOPs were shared on the website so that all dialysis centres could use them. NephroPlus teams were trained to deal with the crisis even before the first COVID +ve case was detected in our network.
As the situation evolved, hospitals were taken over and converted into COVID centres, impacting the dialysis services. Makeshift centres were set up overnight to ensure every patient got timely dialysis. Travel restrictions and lack of public transport made things worse. NephroPlus launched two new services–Dialysis on Wheels and Dialysis on Call. Both the services ensured that if people are unable to travel to centres, dialysis travels to them. The technicians even walked with heavy consumables to patients’ homes to do dialysis if the situation required. The supply chain team also personally started delivering stock to the centres. The health of all teammates infected with COVID-19 was taken care of. Unfortunately, many people lost their livelihood due to the lockdown. NephroPlus has set up a fund to help people with treatment expenses.
HMD: Catering to the high demand for covid vaccination
With the onset of covid, from day one, HMD as an essential product supplier and having more than 60 per cent
market share in the country, knew that the country depended on them. Predicting a spike in demand, HMD adopted an all-hands-on-deck approach and won the necessary approvals from local administration and Centre to advance production into 24/7 mode for the company as well as its ancillaries despite extreme lockdown restrictions in March 2020.
The medical product’s manufacturer has rapidly ramped up the company’s capacity by debottlenecking, ordering
multi-cavity moulds, and re-engineering the standard disposable syringes lines to manufacture in their place auto-disable syringe for vaccination. The production capacity of AD syringe 0.5ml, which was 500 million per annum last year, has already been ramped up to 800.
HMD is a leading manufacturer of disposable syringes and is a key international supplier of critically needed syringes to COVAX facilities of WHO, Brazil and Japan for COVID vaccination, the company said. The company has reserved over two-thirds of the capacity for India and declined orders from many overseas new potential buyers, to prioritise vaccination of our citizens. Now the machines crank out more than 6500 syringes per minute at a factory spread over 11 acres in an industrial district in Haryana of which approximately 2000 per minute
are auto-disable syringes for covid vaccination.
All the syringes put together, the company currently manufactures more than 2.7 billion syringes per year and more than 4 billion needles a year. But when it comes to HMD’s success, Rajiv Nath believes the major driver has always been its commitment to offering consistent quality and its driven team.
VS Hospitals: Delivering the vision of cutting-edge healthcare
The VS Covid Care Hospital manned by a team of senior intensivists 24×7 has treated several patients successfully and created a huge difference to the community. Several elderly patients well above 90 years have been cured of COVID and doing well – giving the entire team immense satisfaction and tremendous conviction to go the extra mile. It reflects in the wonderful results the covid care team has achieved over the last few months, all this while keeping costs low and affordable. The continued care and follow-up post covid to ensure the seamless transition of the patients to normalcy has been vital and well appreciated.
The patient care team at VS have donea massive outreach initiative to get in touch with every one of them to allay their fears and anxiety and help them with any medical help or guidance in these difficult times. Patients have benefited greatly from extended medical help. Telemedicine facilities have been adopted to provide continuous care to patients irrespective of where they are. The elderly and patients who are unable to leave their homes due to the pandemic situation have been managed through their recently introduced home care services.
Milestones during a pandemic:
• VS Hospitals, Chetpet – dedicated Covid Care facility has successfully treated more than 1000 covid patients.
• VS Hospitals, Kilpauk – Non-Covid Facility has successfully treated more than 10000 patients during the
• The Department of Transfusion Medicine started the collection and processing of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 using Aphaeresis technology. Equipped with the latest infrastructure and expertise the transfusion medicine department has been manfully lending a shoulder in this battle against COVID-19 by making Convalescent plasma therapy within reach.
• Complex surgeries have been undertaken successfully for Covid patients despite the imminent risks involved.
• When the entire city was reeling with the shortage of beds, VS was dynamic and created an additional
30 beds by taking up another hospital in the vicinity. Also, 60 quarantine beds were created by collaborating with hotels.
• VS was one of the few hospitals in the city that mitigated both the oxygen crisis and the shortage of medicines
to deliver continuous medical care to the public throughout the pandemic.
VS Hospitals – a household name in the healthcare domain has combined their immense medical expertise with
the adoption of digital technology to adapt to the new normal and provide available, affordable, accessible care
24×7 to our community. Hats off to the entire team of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have put
their life in line to continue to serve patients through this pandemic and beyond. Team VS salutes the spirit shown by frontline/corona warriors in serving society in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID 19 WARRIOR: Dr Mehta’s Hospitals
Dr Mehta’s Hospitals is a leading tertiary healthcare provider system located in Chennai with a strong reputation
for superior clinical excellence, built over 85 years of distinctive clinical management and patient care having
two branches located at Chetpet and Velapanchavadi.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Mehta’s played a leading role in treating patients with COVID-19. The doctors played a leading role in treating patients and were able to treat over 5000 cases successfully with clinical outcome success of more than 98.3 per cent. We would like to mention Dr Nivetha B, Dr Vijay Shankar, Dr Angeline Victoria J from Emergency Medicine (Adult) department; Emergency Medicine (Pediatrics) Dr Sharada C; Intensive Care Dr S Jaganathan, Dr M Ganesh Moorthy, Dr G Arthi, Dr Rajkumar Samuvel, Dr Thirumurugan A, Dr Subi Krishnan; Internal Medicine Dr Dilip Kumar R, Dr K Adhiti, Dr M Rose Raichel, Dr Saravana Bharathy SP.
Connect2MyDoctor: Better healthcare management
Connect2MyDoctor has been at the forefront of supporting COVID treatment options for healthcare providers. While the telemedicine platform effectively supports social distancing by enabling patients to get basic treatment without physically entering a healthcare facility, the most effective support is provided for chronic care patients who need periodic interactions with their care providers. This has been ably supported by connecting the care provider and patient with diagnostic facilities (by digitally sending patients their lab test orders), thereby avoiding the mandatory visit to the healthcare facility to get the lab order; and with pharmacies, so that medical prescriptions are delivered in contactless mode.
Connect2MyDoctor has built and deployed a specific app for use in a COVID ward currently used in Reem Hospital, Abu Dhabi. This enabled every patient to be digitally connected to his care provider. The care provider
can conduct routine checkups on the patient without entering the ward thereby reducing proximal contact as
well as reducing the usage of PPE per patient contact. Moreover, the care provider can track multiple patients across different facilities enabling a far better optimisation in the management of Covid care in an overwhelming
Connect2MyDoctor is supporting a mental health provider LifeWorks, UAE in providing access to employees
and families of a government to access multiple levels of support in managing their well-being. The employees and their family members can reach out to a mental health practitioner via chat, email, phone call and video consultation depending on the severity and urgency of their need. Since governments are at the forefront of managing the pandemic, their mental well-being is of utmost importance thus enabling them to make sound decisions to take care of their citizens.
Connect2MyDoctor is enabling specialist hospitals based in major cities to provide their services in rural cities and villages. Some of these are Neuro Spinal Hospital, Abu Dhabi, Bethany Hospital, Mumbai, Meenakshi
Mission Hospital, Madurai and Tanjore, Metromed International Cardiac Centre, Kerala; Florence Nightingale, Istanbul; Shalby Hospital – Gujarat and other 11 regions among many others.
Using a hub and spoke model, the specialist sitting in the hospital can connect to a primary healthcare centre and render advice to stabilise a patient. This then enables the patient to manage the long journey to the hospital and receive appropriate care. Connect2MyDoctor through their pan country operations is enabling patients to access healthcare around the world in current conditions where physical interactions are difficult, in certain cases, if not impossible. They are bringing hope to many by enabling access to cheaper sources of healthcare
provided in certain countries. Every day the use cases are growing and the challenges faced across the world
are multiplying. Connect2MyDoctor is rising to the challenge and supporting the varied workflows required to
manage these situations. The company is located in Melbourne, Bengaluru and Dubai.
COVID-19 impact on nephrology and urology services at NU Hospitals
Dr Dilip Rangarajan Group Medical Director & Sr Consultant Nephrologist NU Hospitals – Bengaluru, Shivamogga and Ambur
NU Hospitals has three facilities – Padmanabhanagar and Rajajinagar, Bengaluru at Shivamogga and KM NU Hospitals, Ambur – Tamil Nadu.
The pandemic threw up unique challenges for a renal speciality hospital like ours. The following are the steps that we took to successfully tide over the crisis. One of the difficulties was, last year when the lockdown was announced – was to ensure an adequate supply of the needed consumables for dialysis. Meetings were conducted within the hospital with covid precautions and policies and protocols were devised in every department. The HR devised policies regarding leave and quarantine of healthcare workers based on governmental recommendations periodically.
Operation theatre devised its policy and protocol of handling surgical patients. CPR protocol for covid suspects was devised ensuring the safety of all health workers. The Hospital Infection Control Committee devised protocols of disinfection, handling covid patients and isolation wards for covid patients were prepared. Protocols were modified in the haemodialysis unit to ensure the safety of all. Covid patients were dialysed separately in a shift without mixing with others. Special covid consents were devised and taken for admission and dialysis. Training and counselling sessions were conducted for healthcare workers.
The renal transplant was resumed after ensuring that all precautions were taken and the patients received appropriate counselling. Renal transplant recipients affected with covid were treated with appropriate immunosuppression reduction and the use of an antiviral agent. Haemodialysis patients afflicted with covid were appropriately treated with antiviral agents and were dialysed in isolation. All healthcare workers were covered with covid health insurance and were vaccinated with the covid vaccine.