January 13, 2021
Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) is a technology used to supply purified air to medical professionals working in infection-prone areas such as COVID wards, to prevent infection and disease from the aerosolized virus particles. Until very recently, all the PAPRs in the country were imported, costing more than one lakh rupees (US $1,200) each.
The problem was acute during the pandemic when the availability of protection equipment became scarce. It was at this time that AMMACHI Labs and the doctors at Amrita Hospital decided to work together on designing and developing a complete PAPR kit from scratch – a small but sure step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant india) for its healthcare needs.
PAPRs are generally safer and more comfortable to use, and are also reusable as compared to normal PPEs with N95 masks. But because of their exorbitant cost, they haven’t been widely used in developing countries like India. The goal of the project was to develop a low-cost solution that meets all the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards.
On January 13, 2021, AMMACHI Labs at Amrita University and Amrita Hospitals launched the product jointly. 20 kits of this product will be tested by medical professionals at Amrita Hospital. Once all the feedback and design improvements have been incorporated, the PAPR will be productized by Omnex Inc. Unlike commercial PAPRs costing anywhere between Rs. 70,000 (US $840)- Rs. 1,50,000, (US $1,800), Amrita PAPR costs less than Rs. 30,000 (US $360) per kit.
The Amrita PAPR for medical professionals uses an H14 grade HEPA filter with a greater than 99.995% virus filtration efficiency, weighs less than 1.5kg, and gives more than 10 hours battery life. The airflow is more than 10 CFM, providing more comfort in a humid country like India than the Indian NIOSH standard requirement of 6 CFM. The noise level inside the hood is kept under 68 decibels, making communication easier – better than some commercially available PAPRs.
The launch event was attended by several esteemed dignitaries from Amrita Hospital, AMMACHI Labs, and Mata Amritandamayi Math. Swami Dayamritananda Puri, the executive director of Mata Amritanandamayi Math Centers of North America, was the special guest for the program.
Swamini Karunamrita Prana from Mata Amritanandamayi Math lit the lamp and inaugurated the event. Dr. Sreelakshmi P. Leeladharan, Assistant Professor, Department of Cardiac Anaesthesiology, Amrita Hospital, provided the welcome address and shared how Amma’s vision and guidance has inspired several teams in Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham to convert the challenges of the pandemic into several world-class innovations.
Swami Dayamritananda Puri talked about the potential for the PAPRs to help people not just in the medical field, but from all walks of life, thereby creating a tangible impact on society.
Dr. Bhavani R. Rao, the Director of AMMACHI Labs and CWEGE (Center for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality), gave the opening remarks for the product launch. She touched upon the initiative and inventiveness of the scientists, doctors, and engineers from several Amrita institutions who have come together for one cause – dealing with the pandemic with cutting edge and social innovations like the PAPR.
Mr. Deepu DS gave the product presentation and technical brief on the PAPR and the technical standards it is designed to meet. Dr. Sundeep Vijayaraghavan, Professor, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department, Amrita Hospital, shared some of his experiences during the product development from conception to final prototype.
Mr. Chad Kymal, Chairman of Omnex Inc., talked about scaling up and taking the device to market. Mr Arun Kumar, Vice President of Omnex Global, presented the product roll-out strategies.
Dr. Mahesh Kappanayil, Professor, Paediatric Cardiology, Amrita Hospitals, concluded the program and provided the vote of thanks. Dr. Prem Nair, Director of Amrita Hospitals, presided over the event and received the PAPRs.