Hacklab Solutions Combatting Covid-19

Hacklab Solutions Combatting Covid-19

With the world seeking new and innovative ways to stage a silent yet strong fight against Covid-19 with advanced technological tools, an industrial safety automation firm named Hacklab Industrial Solutions is doing its part back at home.

Crux of the Matter

What Is Hacklab Solutions?
Hacklab is a rising industrial safety automation provider company based out of Bangalore, India. Since its inception three years ago, it has designed and developed a range of products that enhance the safety of employees, operating in modern workplace environments. It is a mere 10 member team that has solved 50+ problems till date with its primary expertise in IoT, Robotics and AI.

SAFFR Approach of Smart Safety Solutions is followed, Source: Hacklab

What Helps Them?
Internet of Things (IoT): In order to collect data and control machines that ensure the safety of personnel and machines in all plausible situations.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Smart Algorithms that analyze videos from existing CCTV Setup and alert the workers about real-time violations detected in the workplace.

Cloud Intelligence: The fleet management system depicts near-misses and reduces life-threatening events via significant data points.

We developed a great partnership with Hacklab Solutions and their dedication to our safety is evident in all aspects. We appreciate the expertise they bring in to improve our overall safety standards.


Maintain Physical Distance For They Are Watching You
Hacklabs has realised how difficult it is for workers to stay away from their daily discussions and coffee hangouts, even in times of Covid-19.

Social Surveillance System, Source: Hacklab

So in order to make them maintain a social distance of 6ft, a surveillance camera is set up everywhere across a particular firm. The data from the video analytics is collected and transferred to the central server where supervisors can reprimand or take action on the defaulters.

What Are TRACKR Tags?
CCTV surveillance works only in places where the camera can be installed. In order to constantly remind people of any new human presence around them, TRACKR Tags are set up on all the workers’ helmets or pockets. They beep on crossing the 6ft distance with the other.

TRACKR Tags go wherever they go, Source: Hacklab

Contact Tracing That Keeps You Up To Date
There is a central server that automatically sends alerts to workers at risk via SMS and email notifications whenever an employee is notified to be infected. The safe workers are segregated from the workers in the vicinity of the sick worker and are thus not notified, to save them from unnecessary panic.

Automating Symptomatic People Detection
In order to prevent sick people from entering the office premises itself, thermal cameras are installed at the gate. Since fever is one of the major symptoms of Covid-19, cameras have an advanced image processing software that identifies such potential carriers.

Real-time thermal screening, Source: Smart Cities World

It can screen 60+ people per min, which ensures speedy and efficient scanning. Add on features include face recognition and face mask detection.

Auto-Sanitization For The 20-second Rule Defaulters
Since the SARS-COV-2 virus can exist for long periods of time on surfaces and can thus remain aerosolized in closed areas like lifts, the Auto-UV Sanitization technique is good for a large volume of people co-existing in a workplace.

Consisting of Motion Sensors, Voice Alarm, and Red Light, the system exposes people only to an optimum level of UV Rays and disinfects areas in the absence of human presence in the sanitization area. UV-Oven cleans items like masks, hospital PPEs, tools, and even basics including groceries.

  • The main concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coca-Cola vending machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first Internet-connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold or not.
  • The term “Internet of Things” was likely coined by Kevin Ashton, MIT’s Auto-ID Center, in 1999, though he prefers the phrase “Internet for things”. At that point, he viewed radio-frequency identification (RFID) as essential to the Internet of things, which would allow computers to manage all individual things.
  • An early mechanical CCTV system was developed in June 1927 by Russian physicist Léon Theremin. Originally requested by the Soviet of Labor and Defense, the system consisted of a manually-operated scanning-transmitting camera and wireless shortwave transmitter and receiver, with a resolution of a hundred lines.

Dexamethasone – The New WHO-approved COVID Buster

Dexamethasone - The New WHO-approved COVID Buster

Recent UK trials have touted an anti-inflammatory drug called dexamethasone as a ground-breaking treatment for serious COVID-19 cases. Reports also state that it could reduce death rates to up to one-third.

Crux of the Matter

Wait, Is It Dexa-metha-sone?
Coronavirus disease triggers inflammation in the patient’s body as he/she tries to fight it with the help of their immune system. At times, the immune system goes into overdrive and causes a fatal reaction. Consequently, the response designed to attack infection ends up attacking the body’s own cells. Dexamethasone is a steroid that is designed to act like a hormone in the body and thus calms this effect.

Does It Work The Same For All?
Dexamethasone is a medicine that acts as a steroid that reduces inflammation, by mirroring anti-inflammatory hormones produced by the patient’s body. Thus the drug does not work on people with comparatively milder symptoms, as suppressing their immune system at an early stage of the infection spread, would not be helpful. It’s considered most useful for the worst COVID-hit hospitalized patients, who are on ventilators.

The Trial And Its Results
The Recovery (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 therapy) trial was conducted by the University of Oxford. 2,100 patients received a 6mg daily dose of dexamethasone in the test run for 10 days. Their progress was equated with a random sample of about 4,300 patients, who claimed to receive no additional treatment. The results clearly stated how Dexamethasone could prevent one in three deaths for patients on mechanical ventilation and one in five, for the ones on just oxygen supply.

Why Is It The Chosen One?
First made in 1957, Dexamethasone is a low-cost drug as it already exists and is thus in good supply across the world. Additionally, the UK government has stockpiled enough drug supply to treat 200,000 people. The drug is estimated to cost from £5.40 a day per patient, with a regular COVID-19 treatment known to be of 10 days.

What Is Its Reception Worldwide?
WHO has given the thumbs up of approval for the trial results. They further added how the next move on their part would be creating more therapies for COVID-19 patients with milder symptoms. The drug is manufactured mainly in South Africa, where more than 5K people have died of COVID-19. Its government has started issuing medical orders for its real-time implementation in their hospitals.

But Are There Any Side Effects?
Common side effects include anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, and fluid retention while rarer side effects could be eye disorders, blurred vision, and hemorrhage. However, coronavirus patients shall need a limited dosage of the drug, which would limit the side effects as well.

Difference Between Vaccine And Drug
A vaccine acts as a prevention against any bacteria or virus. It is like an agent that protects your body from becoming sick, by injection of weakened antibodies. This helps in building long-term immunity. A drug is a substance that works as a medicine to treat a person infected by the disease and acts as an immediate treatment. To underline the difference, it can be said that Vaccine builds immunity and drug treats symptoms of a disease.

Drugs Tried Out For COVID-19

  • Antiprotozoal Chloroquine drug used to treat malaria is approved for emergency use by the US FDA.
  • Anti-viral Favilavir was the first approved COVID-19 drug in China while Anti-viral FabiFlu was the first oral drug approved in India.
  • Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat Ebola, is approved in India to treat mild cases. Tocilizumab, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is now being used in Mumbai Hospitals.
  • Covifor is a drug available in injectable form.

  • Dexamethasone was first made in 1957 by Philip Showalter Hench and was approved for medical use in 1961. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. In 2017, it was the 321st most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than one million prescriptions.
  • The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML), contains the medications considered to be most effective and safe to meet the most important needs in a health system. The first list was published in 1977 and included 208 medications.
  • Dexamethasone and most glucocorticoids are banned by sporting bodies including the World Anti-Doping Agency. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA; French: Agence mondiale antidopage, AMA) is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee based in Canada to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports.

Big Businesses Get Bigger Amidst Pandemic

Big Businesses Get Bigger Amidst Pandemic

While the governments and economists around the world are still trying to estimate losses and measure the impact of the Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, the ‘Too big to fail’ companies have turned this crisis into an opportunity to attract large investments, increasing market shares and have recorded exponential profit growth.

Crux of the Matter

Financial systems are arguably far more complex and though fundamental problems of systematic risks remain the same, at times of crisis like the 2008 recession which no one anticipated, conditions change unpredictably. The pandemic has already shaken up business and consumer behavior on a massive scale and we have started to see the drastic changes across industries.

The phrase ‘Too Big To Fail’ became widely popular after the 2008 financial crisis and is used to describe a company that has a presence in the global economy and its failure would be catastrophic or a company that stands tall no matter what the crisis. Governments provide support such firms in a crisis by facilitating a merger, injecting capital, or providing credit because they recognize the consequences of the failure on the broader economy. People tend to trust such bigger companies, with many investing their liquid funds in such companies in times of crisis.

The post-corona economy will be transforming each and every sector and also it may shrink a sector but make the share for a big player even bigger. The disaster is expected to knock out small players as midsize players are running on fumes, brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to get financing and startups are disappearing.

The Top Gainers
In the entire retail sector today, the small retailers are facing the highest risks whereas the big players like Walmart, Amazon, Cosco, that have an e-commerce presence have hired additional 500,000 people and grown exponentially, providing an opportunity to a selective few executives to dominate the market like never before.

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, from March 18 to April 29, around 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment whereas, on the contrary, the S&P 500 has jumped nearly 23% profiting the US corporations and billionaires whose wealth has reportedly increased by 9.3% following the lockdown.

As the pandemic has accelerated online purchases, Amazon has emerged as the largest gainer with its founder Jeff Bezos‘s wealth increased by more than $25 billion since January 1. Moreover, it has also hired additional 75,000 workers to meet growing demands.

Apart from Amazon, Tesla CEO Elon Musk‘s wealth has increased by $10 billion, Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer‘s by $4 billion, and Zoom Founder Eric Yuans‘s by $3.5 billion. 78% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck during Covid-19, and 20% have zero or negative net worth whereas since January 1, 8 US billionaires have gained $1 billion in additional wealth and all the billionaires in the US have recorded a total wealth increase of over $406 billion.

Some of the tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple are also recording huge growth in their net worths with continued investments in ‘too big to fail’ companies. Even in India, Reliance Industries has raised Rs.1.04 lakh crores investments from global firms in less than 10 weeks and aims to acquire a 48% market share by 2025. Its Chairman Mukesh Ambani has also entered the Forbes World’s Top 10 Richest People list after claiming the 9th spot with a net worth of $64.6 billion.

Even in India the unemployment rate reached 23.48% in May and to tackle the situation, the Indian government has reached out to more than 1,000 companies in the US to offer incentives for manufacturers seeking to move out of China which will ensure jobs and positive growth of FDI which has recently crossed $490 billion.

Opportunity For Indian Pharmas
Pharmaceutical companies are inevitably playing a large role in the crisis and India’s existing advantages in pharmaceuticals can be leveraged by betting on the growth of the global healthcare industry. India accounts for about 10% of the world’s pharmaceutical production by volume and 1.5% by value and according to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, pharmaceutical exports of India from 2012 to 2019 have grown from $10 billion to $19 billion.

India is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs and controls around 18% of the global market and also is a leading producer of vaccines in the world catering to about 50% of global vaccine demands. Due to the pandemic, there are a number of small pharma companies in order to expand have partnered with big players, and are at risk of becoming ‘too big to fail’.

In a post-COVID economy, India’s existing advantage of large-scale pharmaceutical production will allow to significantly leverage its soft power by investing in the growth of the healthcare sectors of other nations by boosting pharma exports.

With the ‘too big to fail’ companies continuing to churn out profits and the coronavirus continuing its growth trajectory; sooner or later is expected that the small firms will be in a deep unrecoverable crisis and the power would be shifted in the hands of only a few. Saying so, not everything will go to the top firms and once the virus passes there will be social transformations that will alter the structure of the global business.

  • Margin Call is a 2011 American drama thriller film written and directed by J. C. Chandor in his feature directorial debut. The story takes place over a 24-hour period at a large Wall Street investment bank during the initial stages of the financial crisis of 2007–08. The film explores capitalism, greed, and investment fraud.
  • The Robin Hood effect is an economic occurrence where income is redistributed so that economic inequality is reduced. The effect is named after Robin Hood, said to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor.
  • The Matthew Effect is a social phenomenon often linked to the idea that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The term was coined by sociologist Robert K. Merton in 1968 and takes its name from the Parable of the talents or minas in the biblical Gospel of Matthew.

Dire Straits Of Yemen


While dealing with a history of wars and diseases, the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening to make Yemen a country “without a functioning health system”.

Crux of the Matter

The Civil War

  • 2011: Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi replaces Ali Abdullah Saleh as President after anti-government protests
  • 2014: Houthi Shia Muslim rebel group seizes Saada province, making Hadi flee to Saudi Arabia
  • 2015: Saudi Arabia and other chiefly Sunni states backed by US, UK and France attack Yemen, now under Houthi rule
  • 2017: Saleh gets killed by Houthi group
  • 2018: The Saudi coalition attacks the Hudaydah port, affecting essential supplies of 2/3rd of the population
  • Saudi Arabia claims Iran is backing Houthi due to Shia affinity, which Iran denies

Civilian Impact
Between 2015-18, 85,000 children died by malnutrition in Yemen. Health organizations have declared that 80% of the population is in urgent need of medical care. The war alone has caused 100,000 deaths till date.

The war has also rendered the healthcare system of the country ineffective. In 2016, even ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres’ or Doctors Without Borders withdrew from the hospital due to attacks on medical workers and hospitals.

Cholera Concern
Cholera outbreak started in Yemen in October 2016, which was aggravated by damage to hospitals and water facilities caused by the civil war. Over 1.2 million cases were reported by 2018, and out of the total deaths recorded, 58% were children. Already impacted by the Covid-19, the country saw further adversity as 113,000 cases of Cholera were recorded in 2020.

Coronavirus Crisis
While only 705 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Yemen, experts have pointed an under-reporting done in the records as observed in the exponential increase in cremation. The situation has been aggravated by a complete lack of functioning medical system, as observed in the fact that the ratio of people to ventilators is 2.5 million to 1.

Further trouble awaits the country as the UN would withdraw 30 of its 41 schemes from it if the funding is not sufficient, which stands at 50% of the requisite.

The world will have to witness what happens in a country without a functioning health system battling COVID-19.

United Nations (UN) on Yemen
  • Yemen is one of the least developed countries in the world and in 2019 the United Nations reported that Yemen is the country with the most people in need of humanitarian aid, about 24 million people out of a total of 28.5 million, or 85% of its population.
  • The Persian Gulf is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. The body of water is historically and internationally known as the “Persian Gulf”. Some Arab governments refer to it as the “Arabian Gulf”.
  • Hayel Saeed An’am was a Yemeni businessman and the founder of HSA Group (Hayel Saeed Anam Group), a conglomerate that has a revenue turnover as large as $10 billion. He died on April 23, 1990 with an estimated net worth of $12 billion, of which 30% was pledged to the welfare foundation which he founded.

Pharmas Having Field Day After Covid-19

Pharmas having a field day after Covid-19

To contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, pharma companies are on their toes for developing a potential cure. Many Indian Pharmas have also signed agreements and deals with other pharma giants. Besides that, US FDA nods for Indian pharmas are on a spree after Indian generic drugs are in demand.

Crux of the Matter

Drug Deals
In the absence of a Covid-19 vaccine, countries like the USA, Japan, and India have approved emergency use of Remdesivir drug, which is considered to be a potential drug for coronavirus. Zydus Cadila has signed a non-exclusive licensing pact with Gilead Sciences. As per the agreement, Zydus will manufacture and market Remdesivir drugs in 127 countries including India. Moreover, Dr. Reddy’s also signed a deal with Gilead for Remdesivir. In recent times, Gilead Sciences, which has Remdesivir’s patent, has signed multiple deals with pharmas across the world. Following is the list of the pharma with whom Gilead Sciences has signed non-exclusive deals :

  • Indian companies: Cipla, Jubilant Sciences, Hetero Labs, Biocon’s arm Syngene International, Zydus Cadila and Dr. Reddy’s
  • Pakistani companies: Ferozsons Labs
  • Bangladeshi companies: Beximco Pharma
  • Egyptian companies: Eva Pharma

Insulin Glargine
Biocon and Mylan have jointly produced Semglee – insulin glargine injection. Available in a vial and pre-filled pen presentations, it helps control high blood sugar in Type-2 diabetic adults and Type-1 diabetic minors. Till now the price of the insulin in the USA has been so high that many people skipped taking the life-saving doses. But after US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of insulin glargine as biologics in the USA, Biocon has prepared itself to launch a biosimilar at a relatively cheaper rate.

The biologic drug is a medicine produced from living organisms or contains components of living organisms. Biosimilar is a drug similar to Biologic but not close enough in duplication. Moreover, biosimilars are cheaper with no clinical difference in its effectiveness. Currently Biocon as 28 biosimilar molecules in different stages of development. Biocon launched its first biosimilar in 2016.

AZD1222 Covid Vaccine
AstraZeneca PLC (AZ) has signed a contract with European governments to supply 400 million doses of the vaccine. AZD1222 is its potential vaccine for Coronavirus. The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has approved the start of Phase III trials and the first delivery of the vaccine is expected by the end of 2020. The deal is made between AstraZeneca and European nations i.e. France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Moreover, Other European countries will also be allowed to join the deal. China, Brazil, Japan, and Russia have also expressed interest to get the vaccine.

AZ and Serum Institute of India (SII) signed a licensing agreement to supply 1 billion doses of the Oxford University vaccine to India. AZ will also provide an additional 400 million doses to India. SII will invest $100 million in AZ’s Covid-19 vaccine development

Sun Pharma is testing a plant-derived drug, AQCH. It is derived from tropical, climbing shrub Cocculus Hirsutus and is being considered an important drub against fighting Covid. As of now, the company is conducting trials across 12 centers on 210 patients in India. Other Indian pharma companies, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, and Strides Pharma Science are also conducting trials for a drug to cure Covid-19.

  • AstraZeneca PLC is an English-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company founded in 1999 through the merger of the Swedish Astra AB and the English Zeneca Group. In June 2020, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) confirmed that the third phase of testing for potential vaccines developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca would begin in August 2020.
  • Word vaccination comes from vaccinia, a cowpox infection. Ultimately from Latin vacca (“cow”). The term was coined by Edward Jenner who infected people with weakened cowpox viruses (Vaccinia), to immunise them against smallpox. It is now known that vaccinia and cowpox are separate conditions, but at the time of Jenner, they were considered the same condition.
  • Hilary Koprowski was a Polish virologist and immunologist active in the United States of America who demonstrated the world’s first effective live polio vaccine. Koprowski was the target of accusations in the press related to the “OPV AIDS hypothesis”, which posited that the AIDS pandemic originated from live polio vaccines such as Koprowski’s. The case was settled out of court with a formal apology from Rolling Stone magazine.