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i2Cure Keen to Make Non-Alcoholic Shield Against Covid in India
At a moment when finding a cure or a vaccine for Covid-19 has reached a frenzy, globe-trotting i2Cure has developed an iodine-based shield against the deadly virus. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Annurag Batra, i2Cure President Anil Kejriwal says key laboratories across the world had validated the product and that the company is keen to begin producing the Covid preventive in India. Excerpts:
Annurag Batra: The last few months have been very tough for people around the world and your company i2Cure, has been busy finding a unique scientific product that helps prevent Covid-19 or rather, is a shield against the coronavirus. Tell us about it.
Anil Kejriwal: Interestingly Annurag, this product was being developed for multiple medical usage. It was based out of molecular iodine and the research has been going on for the last two decades. Then we found it to be a very powerful protection against Covid -19. So, we just thought this is needed by people today.
So instead of exploring all the other avenues of its use, we just decide to do the Covid-19 prevention first.
So, we will have more product area but we are currently concentrating on Covid to save lives, because this is the most powerful protective ever. Glycerine and iodine have been known for centuries to be a very strong antiseptic and protector of people. Right from childhood we have seen their use. But this (product) is 200 to 300 times more powerful than the iodine people are known to use.
So molecular iodine is the effective part. Typically, what people are using is a 50-100 ppm product and we have brought out a product in which it can go up to 3500 ppm. So, we are just in time to save people from the second wave and we will protect the whole world and are planning to do it in 30 countries or more.
The idea of using iodine as a defence mechanism
Annurag Batra: Mr Kejriwal, I know you are a seasoned entrepreneur. You have worked across the globe ‒ in Russia, in Singapore, in India. Tell us, how did the idea of using iodine and glycerine to create a coated product that safeguards you from Covid -19 come about? How did this collaboration happen?
Anil Kejriwal: I was introduced to this research team out of Virginia by my IIT friends and medical friends. And the scientific team wanted to do production in China and then I convinced them that Mr (Narendra) Modi’s dream is to Make in India for the world and this was absolutely an ideal product. I’ve been running a Whatsapp group on Make in India for the world and this really induced me to convince them to do it for India and not China or any other country. But I convinced them to come and join hands with us and base the production in India for the whole world.
Validation from across the world
Annurag Batra: That’s great news. Tell us how the adoption begins on this product. How have medical bodies responded to this opportunity? What is the response of the Indian government, Indian regulatory bodies and other regulatory bodies across the world?
Anil Kejriwal: We have the approval of every major laboratory around the world ‒ in the United States, Russia, and Singapore. But we are facing a bit of a problem in India because too many scams have happened here. So, we are trying to convince them to look at it and the problem is, they don’t have facilities to test Covid for the product. So, we are testing it overseas and then making it acceptable which is kind of a cash funded to situation for us.
So, we definitely need a lot of support from the government to bring it to India. But other countries have given a fantastic response. The Russian government, the US government, the Brazilian, (Yuma,) UAE and the Philippines government, are all signing contracts with us, approving the product and respect the product. But we are finding it difficult to get government approval to enter India. The general public is understanding (the product) and using it, but getting government support is proving a bit tricky.
Producing in India
Annurag Batra: Okay. But if you want mass adoption to happen and you want to save lots of lives which is your aim, then you need to get the support of the Union and state governments. How do you think you will be able to achieve this goal over the next few weeks?
Anil Kejriwal: Our CEO from Virginia is flying down to India and we have appointments with the Union Health Minister and the Health Secretary for him to make a presentation and convince them that they should look at this very carefully, especially for public places.
Our dream is to save the Muslims of every mosque because there are more than 35 million mosques and the virus is spreading more in the Muslim world because other products are alcohol-based. This product is not alcohol based. It is wonderful for the skin and saves you from a lot of trouble. So, we are trying to get through multiple channels into India to convince them that this is a real product and the saviour.
A Social Enterprise
Annurag Batra: Mr Kejriwal, you’ve been doing business in the past. You started in the computer business, you studied at IIT Kanpur, you have been president of PAN IT associations, so you have networks across the globe and you have done multiple businesses. This business is a social enterprise and I would say it is good for the society. Tell us what are the rules of entrepreneurship that the current environment needs to sustain?
Anil Kejriwal: Interestingly, I’m a chemical engineer and for the first time in my life, I’m doing business in the chemical industry. I’ve always been in high-tech areas, software, hardware, all kinds of it. So, it is very exciting. Finally, 50 years after graduation, 50 years after entering college, I’m actually entering my field of expertise and I definitely feel that this is my passion. I’m already 68 and my age is no time to just make money. Now I have to give back. So, I’m trying to give back to the society with the product which will serve humankind.
Affordability for Indians
Annurag Batra: Mr Kejriwal, we wish you luck. What kind of pricing does this product have because it needs to be mass produced and pricing needs to be attractive so that every person can use it without bothering about the price.
Anil Kejriwal: We have purposely kept the price in India much lower than in the US and other parts of the western world so as to ensure affordability to the masses. So one sachet would be like Rs 6-7, which would last for the whole day, whereas in the case of the alcohol-based product, you keep rubbing it throughout the day. The cost per month would be lower than that of the alcohol-based product and much better. A bottle which costs $10 in the US, we are marketing here at Rs 388. But the sachet is for the common man and would be very useful, especially in public places where crowds go and where everybody must use it. We are compulsively talking to the railways and all airlines. We talked to temples, where alcohol is not allowed and where people are health conscious. Our product is definitely cheaper than the current solutions.
Annurag Batra: Okay, Mr Kejriwal, we wish you luck and your product i2Cure success because it saves lives of people. We wish you luck in India and around the world and I’m sure our government and policymakers will see some benefits in this supplement for combatting Covid-19. All the Best!