The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 1,00,000 people and infected over 2 million in 185 countries so far. This has resulted in an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) like masks, health kits, and medical equipment like ventilators.
Despite these challenges, a new innovation by Harela Society in Pithoragarh has shown us a ray of hope in the Himalayan region in response to this disease.
Necessity is the mother of invention
The fight against coronavirus and the shortage of masks, health kits and sanitizers inspired the youth and volunteers of the Society to design its Purple Cube to protect themselves and others from getting infected while doing the relief-work, which involves distributing food to the needy by its volunteers.
Before coming up with the innovative Purple Cube, the team, which consists of 125 volunteers just in Pithoragarh, had used hydrogen peroxide, bleach, sodium hypochlorite and ethanol as sanitizers, but the lockdown led to a severe shortage of all these chemicals. After studying the options being used by the relief workers in other countries, the volunteers came across the use of Ultraviolet (UV) rays in England and China for proper circulation of oxygen for disinfecting the hospitals. The use of UV rays kills the virus by severely damaging its DNA/RNA.
The right information to help solve a real problem
The volunteers immediately realised the potential of this technology in sanitizing and disinfecting the food packets and other relief materials. The team started experimenting to make it using UV tubes from discarded RO water purifier machines. “The volunteers from across the country helped us in developing the Purple Cube. We received inputs from Vinay Deep Punetha, polymer scientist; Anil Kothari, microbiologist; Pawan Goswami, a student of IIT-Delhi; and Bhuwan Punera, a member of Harela’s technical team.”
However, the process is not as easy as it seems. There are precautions to be taken as UV rays are harmful to human beings causing skin cancer and blindness. This is why scientists have strongly suggested using this technology only on non-living things. “Through the Purple Cube, we are making relief material, cars, masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment free of the virus. It has also accelerated our work,” says Manu.