NITI Aayog member and former Defence Research and Development Organisation Chief V K Saraswat called on DRDO to provide ‘more focus’ on its six laboratories that work on life sciences. He was speaking at a video-conference on National Technology Day.
National Technology Day is observed on May 11 every year to commemorate the 1998 nuclear tests at Pokhran and to underline the need for self-reliance in critical areas.
While Saraswat did not directly suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic was related to biological warfare, it is significant that the government is exhorting military laboratories to work concertedly on biological defence.
Speaking on the occasion, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO for ‘tackling the challenges posed by COVID-19 using state-of-the-art technology’.
‘DRDO has developed more than 50 products in the last three-four months, like bio suit, sanitiser-dispenser, PPE (personal protection equipment) kits,’ the minister said.
Recently, DRDO announced the development of an ‘automated contactless UVC sanitisation cabinet called the Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser’, which sanitises mobile phones, iPads, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs, challans, passbooks and papers without physical contact.
On April 14, DRDO unveiled a COVID-19 Sample Collection Kiosk, which allows health workers to collect samples from patients without wearing PPE kits, since the kiosk’s shielding screen protects the medical worker from the aerosols of the patient while taking the sample.