At par with the mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, global health technologists are leveraging Industry 4.0 technology to determine non-invasive ways of diagnosing Covid-19. Two years ago, the crisis started with the potential discovery of vaccination. When fulfilled, technologists have up their game to vocal biomarkers in a marketplace poised for a CAGR of 15.5% by 2027.
Thinking of innovation, we consider India at the receiving end. India, as per Bill Gates, was not competent enough to manufacture Covid-19 vaccination. Adar Poonawala, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, fought a battle to get Europe to approve international travel from India. They believed that Covishield-vaccinated Indian travelers were unsafe. But now, India has pivoted amidst all challenges, and here’s how it is at work!
Zoom to vocal biomarker technology using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). In India, Pucho Life Sciences Inc has developed DIYA Vocal, a vocal biomarker for rapid Covid-19 diagnosis. The technology screens primarily asymptomatic Covid-19 patients through real-time screening and diagnosis. In the internal trials, the Pucho Life Sciences Inc CEO, Vikram Jha, informs about 80% accuracy, ready for large-scale on-field trials.
Pucho Life Sciences Inc’s proprietary vocal biomarker, DIYA Vocal – Rapid Covid Screening Platform, is ready for the attention of the global health tech community and pharmaceutical industry. The organization solicits participation from hospitals in India and abroad to run local trials helping Jha address any potential anomalies before applying for a market license and eventual approval from the FDA. According to Jha, a large-scale clinical trial is mandatory for the ultimate good as the market is constrained for growth due to high levels of accuracy issues.
“I have already reached out to prominent NGOs in India requesting concerned authorities to leverage our vocal biomarker to determine outcome and send us the field report from their respective impact region. I have reached out to both private and public hospitals and diagnostic centers. While the response has been largely generous, organizations with large scale Covid-19 patient databases are only ready to run a trial for an exorbitant fee, which is delaying the trial and therefore the solution to come into effect for public good.” informs Jha.
Jha further adds that “Of course, as Pucho Life Sciences Inc is a registered for-profit health tech startup, potential collaborators may seek profit to help me with my ambitious clinical trial, and that owes a declaration. Pucho Life Sciences Inc is clearly a for-profit health tech startup of social impact but, our vocal biomarker technology, painstakingly developed by my team and I, is largely meant for the rural communities where people die of Covid-19 every day for various reasons including but not limited to, lack of medical support and accessibility, awareness of the consecutive waves of more complex variants, and lack of time and monetary resource.”
In this conversation over several days, Jha is visibly operating from a deep concern both as a technologist with a global solution at hand that can make so much impact and the founder of a bootstrapped company that cannot buy large-scale clinical trials from money borrowed from friends and family. Indeed, for an innovative health technology solution to be available to the low-income communities of India or anywhere globally, quality is never a trade-off. It means that Jha can’t compromise on the necessity of clinical trials just because it will be a not-for-profit for low-income communities.
While DIYA Vocal – Rapid Covid Screening Platform is going to be a great relief for the low-income communities that can avail multiple Covid-19 screenings for free just by dialing a number on their basic mobile handset, it is also going to be inexpensive for the rest of the income profiles no matter they might have the power to buy out Jha’s incredible technology altogether. Jha’s daring is baffling if one inquires about his plans of empanelment with India’s top telecom providers ensuring that the solution is accessible to all.
Recalling Bill Gates’ remark on India’s ability to develop an effective home-grown Covid-19 solution could be deeply hurting when we see Microsoft stuffed with technologists imported from India. Still, somewhere it begins to make sense when innovators like Jha have to mind so many challenges just to run an extensive clinical trial to ensure a sustainable health technology solution for all. This reminds me of the painful confession of the CEO of Bharat Biotech, Dr. Krishna Ella, expressing his anguish over approvals through a sick bureaucracy.
Intelligent technology is not inexpensive; it is explicitly a huge monetary investment that justifies collaborators to expect an immediate financial gain. But, for something founded on a neat premise of social impact followed by sustainable profit at a later stage, should we at least consider a more human-centric negotiation where parties value impact before returns? Jha’s unique and arguably India’s only Covid-19 vocal biomarker solution, DIYA Vocal – Rapid Covid Screening Platform, is now trained on various local languages and speech patterns, urgently requires asymptomatic Covid-19 patient voice samples across all Indian states, cities, and villages before the third wave rings the bell!