CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Annals of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (India)
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1713719
Review Article

Invention, Innovation, and Imitation in India—Necessity Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Joseph L. Mathew
1  Advanced Pediatrics Centre, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2  National Biomedical Instruments & Devices Hub, Chandigarh, India
,
T. Lazar Mathew
3  Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.
  

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated tremendous innovation in India, driven by unprecedented novel needs, sense of urgency, availability of time during the lockdown, funding by Government agencies, and accelerated processing of projects. Therefore, the country has witnessed widespread innovation and imitation of existing technologies in recent weeks, but very few inventions. One novel invention, the Artificial Breathing Capability Device (ABCD) is being speeded up by the current necessity. Other innovations and imitations include (i) healthcare devices/products intended for diagnosis, management, or monitoring of suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patients (in healthcare institutions); (ii) improvisations in personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers and other personnel (including the public); (iii) adaptation of information technology platforms for telehealth, telemedicine, telemonitoring, and tele-education; and (iv) repurposing of existing resources/technologies for COVID-19. Some fruits of these efforts include (i) respiratory support devices (by mechanization of manual ventilation, ventilator splitters, etc.), (ii) personal protective equipment (PPE) (novel face masks, face shields/splash guards, intubation boxes, aerosol guards, etc.), (iii) novel sanitization products, processes or deployment methods, (iv) diagnostic tests (including rapid antibody tests, polymerase chain reaction [PCR] methods, and loop-mediated isothermal amplification [LAMP]), and (v) various adaptations such as repurposing and retrofitting of existing technologies aligned to the needs of COVID-19. These innovations and imitations have laudable features such as extremely rapid development of products (not merely concepts or prototypes); collaboration among individuals, institutions, and industry; willingness of players to work outside traditional comfort zones; and teamwork among stakeholders. Social media and lay press publicity create a sense of achievement and hope in a nation bogged down by the realities of COVID-19. However, these positive developments are associated with unique problems, especially duplication of effort, disregard of intellectual property (IP) issues, unhealthy competition amongst institutions, and failure to consider the needs for which solutions are proposed. The haste for developing products has bypassed the important steps of peer review, laboratory testing, and clinical validation to ensure the safety and efficacy of end users. These unintended side effects of the innovation race can be overcome by coordinated efforts through an innovation pathway proposed in this article under a broader innovation ecosystem.



Publication History

Publication Date:
21 June 2020 (online)

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