At a time when India is struggling to meet the requirement of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), a startup called CHMI Indobionics that was founded by college friends three years ago has been manufacturing thousands of PPEs since the end of March. The startup is specialized in making low-cost prosthetic arms. However, the core members of the startup took a backseat on the specialisation and decided to ease the efforts of doctors fighting against the deadly virus COVID-19 in the frontline. 

In India’s financial hub, Mumbai, over 200 healthcare workers have been infected with the Coronavirus so far. According to a report by Al Jazeera, doctors say that it is because they are not provided with required PPEs as India has been facing the scarcity of the same. Even WHO stressed the correct use of personal protective equipment like masks, goggles, gloves, and gowns to protect frontline healthcare workers. 

“This is really a war and we are being compared to soldiers. But you don’t send soldiers to fight a war without ammunition,” a doctor told the BBC.

To cope up with the crisis and save the life of doctors and medical workers CHMI Indobionics has managed to produce 50,000 PPE kits. They have been supplying the PPEs to Sai Hospital and Municipal Hospital in Bombay, Rashtra Chemical Fertilisers in Ali Bagh and Indian Army in Guwahati. “We are also in talks with the West Bengal government and Maharashtra governments for the same,” told Humza Shaikh, CEO of CHMI Indobionics. 

A sample of the PPE manufactured by CHMI Indobionics

 

A PPE kit includes a coverall suit with hood, pair of shoe wrap, par of hand gloves, goggles, mask, face shield and waste disposal bag. The startup is selling the PPE kits for Rs. 500-800 depending on the orders quantity.  

Apart from PPE CHMI Indobionics has also manufactured low-cost portable ventilator. The cost of this ventilator is between Rs. 1.5 to 2 lakh. On the other hand, the ventilator that is available in the market costs Rs. 10-15 lakhs. “It is an ICU ventilator. The cost has been reduced because we have used only crucial elements. Moreover, our R&D budget was also small,” told Humza. They will soon launch it once the certification process is done. 

Created employment for thousands

At the time when many companies are sacking employees and cutting salaries in India citing they have no money to afford them, CHMI Indobionics has hired around 4000 skilled and 1000 unskilled migrant workers. The startup is providing them with lodging and boarding facilities.  

 

Employees are working in the CHMI Indobionics factory.

 

“We have ensured their safety and meals are provided and proper care is being taken with the implementation of social distancing norms and hygienic sanitation facilities,” Humza said while talking to TwoCircle.net. He also told that CHMI Indobionics collaborated with three startups in IIT Bombay and IIM Calcutta. 

CHMI Indobionics wants to manufacture one lakh PPE kits and one thousand low-cost portable ventilators. Humza said that they are producing PPEs by the money they have in their bank accounts as they are yet to receive funds they have applied for. The budget for manufacturing what they are aiming for is about Rs. 2.5 crore.