Recently, Sukrit Bharati, founder and director of Virtuoso Optoelectronics, joined NewsX for an exclusive interview. Bharati, whose organization has just been enrolled in Stanford’s seed programme for MSMAs, in these tough times of a pandemic, has taken an initiative that must be lauded; he’s started using his production processes to produce masks and other healthcare products. “Contributing to the fight against Covid-19, was one of the things that we really wanted to do, we wanted to do our bit. We were good at manufacturing, so we decided to get into manufacturing of respiratory masks.”

He feels that masks are an extremely important part of the fight against the pandemic, citing the recent WHO announcement that Covid may be aerially transmitted, he says,” Importance of masks has gone up exponentially. There are three categories; the cloth mask, the medical/surgical mask, and the respiratory or N95 mask. It’s important to note, that the cloth masks and surgical masks only limit exposure by you, they stop you from spreading the virus, but they do not protect you.

Bharti also explained the proper way to wear masks, and said, “You need to use the noseclip effectively, and cover your nose and mouth completely. The purpose of a mask is to make sure that all the air that is coming in is through the mask, so that it gets filtered.” He warns against the washing of masks, because it, “breaks the fibers of the mask”. When using masks to guard against dust and smoke, this may be effective, but when speaking of use against a virus, it is “crucial that mask functionality not be compromised’ he says.

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We also asked him how a citizen can differentiate between good masks and bad masks, and make an informed purchase. “You must look at the background of the brand to see if it’s trustworthy, and secondly, you must check for certifications from renowned institutions.”

Bharati also warns against purchasing fake masks, something which has become scarily common, due to trends and social usage of certain brands. ‘Don’t just buy a brand because everyone’s buying it, you might just end up with a fake. Instead, do your research, and choose the correct one.

He brought up valves, and the mass market’s fascination with them, and explained why they were dangerous. “Everyone’s buying valve masks because they think it’s effective. They’re not. With valve masks, you’re either getting unfiltered air in, or you’re letting unfiltered air out. Either way, you’re not getting the full protective use of the mask.”

Speaking on Stanford’s seed program, and what it means to him and his organization, he says, “We wanted to get guidance and mentorship so that we could scale up our company, and provide more employment. It’s an attempt to promote sustainable organizations and eradicate poverty, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Bharati, and Virtuoso Optoelectronics have displayed a true commitment to the Prime Minister’s call for an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. “We’re firm believers in the cause. We’re in manufacturing, so we understand just how important it is. That’s why we try to make sure we are using Indian production for all of our products, especially the masks, those are 100% Indian produced. While bringing in imports from China or any other country is good, we need to be confident in ourselves that we will be able to manage without them, especially in emergencies like this.”

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