With COVID-19 fear striking the nation at an exponential rate, the research fraternity esp. scientists and engineers have been collaborating at an unparalleled scale to understand the exact behaviour of SARS-CoV-2 (the noble coronavirus), transmission dynamics of the Corona flu, its diagnostics, innovative technologies to scale up the fight, means of coping up with physical distancing, and critical assessment of communications. To bring in the scientific and factual aspects to this pandemic outbreak, a multi-institutional, multi-lingual science communication initiative, called CovidGyan was created in early April this year. This unique pan-institutional initiative on scientific advances towards understanding the virus and disease spread and its mitigation is the brainchild of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC). Other prominent partners that have joined their hands in this noble effort include Vigyan Prasar, IndiaBioscience, and the Bangalore Life Science Cluster (BLiSc), which includes Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).

An outcome of this initiative was the launch of the CovidGyan website that went live on April 03, 2020.

This website serves as a hub to bring together a collection of resources in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These resources are generated by public supported research institutions in India and associated programs. The content presented here relies on the best available scientific understanding of the disease and its transmission. Apart from being the authentic source of information, the primary objective of this website is to create public awareness and bring in a holistic approach to the understanding of this disease and potential means to mitigate it. Further, this website would aid as a ‘go-to’ repository of information regarding COVID-19 as mentioned above. This website is designed with multi-faceted aspects to ‘right information’ through talks from eminent scientists in audio/podcast formats, infographics, posters, videos, FAQs and mythbusters, and scientific paper links even. This informative website is not just user-friendly but also authentic, reliable and trustworthy. Since its launch, it has been widely shared by the scientific community through various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, the versatility of the website is to provide these contents in multiple Indian languages. As of date, we have content available in nearly 12 languages.

Here’s a snapshot of the website followed by some of the infographics available on the website for reference.

Website Link: https://covid-gyan.in

The brand new ‘well-being’ section of COVID-Gyan went live recently. Dedicated to several resources on well-being, including ways to deal with isolation, how to keep busy during this trying time, and more, this page of the website is going to bring in ‘all round’ approach in dealing with this pandemic. One can find interesting articles and infographics, that are free to use here.

Covid-Gyan’s Sundowner and WebGyan Sessions

As part of the Covid-Gyan initiative, mental health and well-being was seen as one of the essential pillars of information and platforms for sharing. Under the banner of well-being, we instituted a number of articles, infographics, and a special interactive community building initiative called the Sundowner Sessions. These sessions derive the name from the well-recognised feeling of unease and despair that befalls many of us as the day comes to an end. It is at this time of the day, at twilight, when many of us feel a sense of loneliness and despair, especially more so during these times of uncertainty and isolation.

The platform for these sessions are an open face webinar featuring a panel of distinguished speakers from various professions as well as from the scientific community, and focused in particular on the scientific community. Moderated by a member of Covid-Gyan, these sessions have been featuring topics of interest and concern for society at large. Some conversations featured include Parenting during the Pandemic, News Fatigue, Women who Work from Home, and a discussion on the New Normal in Science Communication.

Further, it is made very clear that the Sessions are not substitutes for psychiatric help, counselling, or therapy but solely aimed at building a community of like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar circumstances as a result of the global pandemic. The Sundowner Sessions are a platform for community to come together and share stories and experiences, and talk openly about their concerns, ask questions and offer ideas, suggestions and solutions. Thus far, we have held nine Sundowner sessions— completely organised, hosted, recorded, and edited inhouse, with an average audience of 40-50.

Similarly, the WebGyan series is an initiative on COVID related issues where scientists and medical professionals speak about COVID-19 and research ongoing in this field. The speakers of these sessions include eminent scientists like Dr. Manu Prakash and Dr. Ganagandeep Kang to medicine practioners like Dr. C.S. Pramesh and virologist like Dr. Shahid Jameel. These sessions are livestreamed on the COVID-Gyan YouTube channel and have an average participation number exceeding 100. We hope to bring in more relevant and interesting content through these platforms – to keep you informed and aware about COVID-19!