What makes ‘Vajra Kavach’ even more useful is that the disinfection is done in just a few minutes

By enabling reuse of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other materials used by healthworkers, a product aptly named Vajra Kavach is making protective gear more available, affordable, accessible, and environment friendly by reducing biomedical waste generation.

The disinfection system, developed by Mumbai-based start-up Indra Water, removes the viral particles including that of the Covid-19 disease-causing SARS-Cov-2 virus from PPEs, N95 masks, coats, gloves and gowns and other such equipment used by Corona warriors.

The product not only protects healthworkers, but the environment too, by helping reduce biomedical waste generation. What makes ‘Vajra Kavach’ even more useful is that the disinfection is done in just a few minutes.

The system is being manufactured at Indra Water’s factory at Bhiwandi in Mumbai, from where it is delivered to hospitals.

“Our system is able to achieve a 1,00,000-fold reduction in the number of microorganisms; in scientific terms, tests showed that we got 5 log (99.999%) reduction of viruses and bacteria”, said a proud Abhijit VVR., the cofounder of Indra Water.

‘Log reduction’ is a term used to signify the relative number of living microbes that are eliminated after a process such as disinfection.

He described the process of developing the system in a detailed conversation with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Press Information Bureau) on Monday.

The validation and testing of the system was done by the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Bombay.

Vajra Kavach went through a very long trial and testing process, appraised Abhijit.

It was tested with Escherichia virus MS2 (a single-stranded RNA virus and a well-known surrogate of human respiratory viruses such as influenza virus and coronavirus) and E.coli strain C3000, he added.

“Full loads of the virus and bacteria samples were placed on a PPE. The PPE was then placed inside the Vajra Kavach. After the disinfection cycle time, the PPE was removed and the sample was rechecked to assess the growth rate and log reduction of the virus,” Abhijit stated.

He further explained that the system employs a multistage disinfection process consisting of advanced oxidation, corona discharge and UV-C light spectrum to inactivate the viruses, bacteria, and other microbial strains present on the PPE, achieving more than 99.999% efficiency.

Recalling the idea behind the product, Abhijit noted that the product took root from a simple yet powerful and frugal idea of reusing rather than disposing.

“The idea of Vajra Kavach was conceived during the nation-wide lockdown in March 2020. We began to think about what exactly we could do to help the country fight the pandemic,” the Co-founder of the Mumbai based start-up said.

“We realized there was a huge demand for PPE Kits and N95 masks and the nation was struggling to provide our healthcare workers with the necessary medical requirements. That is when we came up with an idea – a simple disinfection process that enables our Corona Warriors to reuse their masks and PPEs,” he added.

To implement the idea, Indra Water modified its water purification technology and came up with the totally indigenous disinfection system, said Abhijit.

“Every component used in the manufacturing of this disinfection system is made in India. Nothing is procured from outside,” he pointed out.

Indra Water was set up with the Department of Science & Technology’s NIDHI-PRAYAS grant (through Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, IIT Bombay) for coming up with innovations in the water sector.

The company was one among the 51 start-ups which were funded and supported under Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), an initiative by National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

Given its efficacy of disinfection PPEs and other materials and being cost-effective at the same time, Vajra Kavach is increasingly becoming popular with hospitals.

“Vajra Kavach’s UV disinfection of PPE is elegant, user friendly and convenient. The system is adequate for our 25-bed Covid Care Center. It will help us use fewer PPEs,” said Nisha Shah, Chief Medical Officer of the IIT Bombay Hospital.

Mumbai’s Cama Hospital, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital and St. George Hospital are some other hospitals in Mumbai where Vajra Kavach disinfection system has been installed.

A hospital in Warangal has also got one, said Abhijit while adding that around 10 Vajra Kavach systems have already been installed in various hospitals in Mumbai.

“After talking to a lot of health care workers, we came to know that the system is being used by them to disinfect not only N95 masks and PPE kits, but also lab coats, masks, aprons, face shields, stationery material in the ICU, basic medical equipment, gears and other medical cloth materials as well,” the co-founder of Indra Water stated.

Abhijit informed that they are now coming up with a second version – compact and more user-friendly.

“Since the PPE Kit is big in size, we had to provide enough room for it in the system. However, we are planning to make the system compact,” he further elaborated.

Indra Water is a 20-member start-up whose core area is treatment and disinfection of wastewater discharged from apartments, industries and factories.