The COVID 19 pandemic is flying on invisible wings; tiny, water based respiratory droplets which are expelled during coughing; sneezing and talking carry the deadly virus across people, states and nations. However, the actual mechanics of infection spans multiple disciplines of science and needs a holistic, multiscale approach of investigation. At the smallest scale of our investigation is the carrier droplet which must evaporate as it travels from the nose or mouth of a human being. We have modelled this drop to be of saline nature and have incorporated the aerodynamics of the cough to predict the distance such a droplet may travel. At the next higher scale, droplet emitting humans are modelled as the macrocarriers of disease and the process can be imagined to be a chemical reaction where the infected spread by an exchange of respiratory vapour while talking, sneezing or coughing. The collaborative effort among Institute of Science(Prof. Saptarshi Basu and Dr. Prasenjit Kabi), University of Toronto (Prof. Swetaprovo Chaudhuri) and University of California San Diego (Dr. Abhishek Saha and Dr. Vishnu Unnikrishnan) is now an Invited Feature Article in the prestigious Flow and Virus Issue of AIP journal Physics of Fluids (in Press; a copy can be downloaded from https://arxiv.org/pdf/2004.10929.pdf). Covid-19 spread depends on numerous factors, but respiratory droplets are the major transmission mode. This paper uniquely connects respiratory droplet lifetime physics. However, we are continuously striving towards improving our chances of battling the invisible enemy.
Work with Narayana Nethralaya
The fear of pandemic is most palpable amongst the frontline soldiers; in this case the healthcare workers. The chance of aerosol generation during various surgical and routine procedures in addition to those generated ubiquitously by patients and visitors pose a real threat for doctors and medical attendants. In this regard, opthamologists from the Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore led by Dr. Abhijit Sinha Roy, approached us to image some of their surgical procedures such as microkeratome (used for LASIK surgery) and phacoemulsification (used for cataract surgery) as well clinical tonometry (to detect glaucoma) using our state-of-the art cameras at high speed and at high magnification in a bid to detect the possibility of aerosol generation. The results have been well articulated in video series produced and directed by Narayana Nethralaya team (https://youtu.be/uFQjpuf7EdE and https://youtu.be/aHH2H8DTI0Q). The results have also been submitted to top journals in opthamology for peer-review and the videos have been circulated amongst professionals as well as the general public to spread awareness regarding the safety of visiting healthcare centres during times of pandemic.