COVID-19 Project Overview
In India, the Action COVID-19 Team (ACT) fund created by the startup and venture capital community is advancing health technology solutions for preventing, detecting, treating, and eradicating the coronavirus. ACT is a 14 million-dollar (INR 100 crore) fund that is providing catalytic grants and mentorship to help startups create large-scale impact in the fight against COVID-19.
Funded projects focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19, increasing testing, helping people manage the virus at home, supporting healthcare workers and hospitals, promoting mental health, ensuring healthy food access, and advancing a vaccine and treatments. More than 20 state governments in India are using these innovations, with further adoption to come.
When the COVID-19 crisis struck, mass-scale testing became a challenge for India. ACT came in as a brilliant initiative to encourage startups like ours to contribute in a meaningful way.Deepak Sahni, Healthians
How it Helps
The ACT launched in April as COVID-19 began to peak in India. Challenges included a shortage of testing kits, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, and virus breakouts in populated areas like Asia Dharvi — the largest slum in Mumbai.
As the country was gearing up to fight the pandemic, ACT’s catalytic funding helped ramp up capacity to do so. To start, the ACT prioritized startup solutions for tracking and checking high-risk patients as well as mobile testing to enable social distancing. In July, startups supported by the ACT supplied 50 percent of testing kits in India and 25 percent of N95 masks. At the peak of the pandemic, the ACT focused on home quarantine and hospital infrastructure like high-flow oxygen devices, remote ICU management solutions, telehealth hotlines, and more. Now, startups supported by the ACT continue to create and implement innovative solutions to fight COVID-19.
One such solution is a data dashboard tool for health professionals to analyze results from mobile tests, containment zones, and migrant labor movement in densely populated areas of India. Tools for remote patient health monitoring and management are also making an impact by filling gaps in the healthcare infrastructure. Other solutions improve care within hospitals, like plasma banks and research, online training for workers to become certified in COIVD-19 management, and UV disinfection.
As of August 2020 in India, more than 100 million people were directly impacted by ACT. This includes more than 16.5 million high-risk individuals tracked and 30,000 patients treated under home quarantine. From April to August, ACT-funded startups delivered 300,000 PPE kits and 250 ventilators across the nation and provided more than 75,000 mental wellness and consultation calls.
Startup Spotlight: Healthians
Healthians is a startup helping to find innovative ways to scale COVID-19 testing. This is essential for a densely populated country like India that faces challenges in operating testing centers across overloaded healthcare facilities. Healthians created and managed three solutions: at-home testing, drive-through testing, and COVID-19 testing kiosks.
Healthians is just one of the many startups working with the ACT to address pressing needs in the fight against COVID-19. Moving forward, the ACT will focus on scaling such solutions and helping states around India make the most of them.