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Exclusive | Sudha Murty says Infosys Foundation to commit additional Rs 100 crore toward COVID-19 relief efforts

70-year old Murty's day usually starts at 5:30 am and she works for up to 15 hours a day, coordinating relief efforts from home, seeking requirements from various hospitals and organisations

May 05, 2021 / 11:05 PM IST

Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Infosys will commit an additional Rs 100 crore to support efforts to fight COVID-19 in India, its top executive told Moneycontrol. This comes on top of the Rs 100 crore that it allocated last year, taking its total commitment to Rs 200 crore.

"Last year, we helped in establishing full-fledged COVID hospital in Bengaluru which is now running at full capacity. We will be allocating funds this time to various other cities where Infosys has a presence- Hyderabad, Pune, Nagpur, Mangalore, Trivandrum, and Delhi. We are supporting hospitals by giving ventilators, oxygen concentrators, sanitisers, PPE kits, N95 masks. We are also helping construction workers with rice and food kits, apart from providing maintenance money to auto drivers. We are also spending money on vaccination awareness programs because there are many people who are not taking vaccines. We are also helping animal care centres," Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation, told Moneycontrol in a phone interview.

Half of the Rs 100-crore commitment last March was earmarked for the PM Cares fund. This time around, the entire commitment will be used by the Foundation to fund various initiatives at the grassroots level. "There is a lot of work that we are doing at the grass-root level and we need funds for all this. We have distributed thousands of ration kits to vulnerable sections," she said.

70-year old Murty's day usually starts at 5:30 am and she works for up to 15 hours a day, coordinating relief efforts from home, seeking requirements from various hospitals and organizations. "It is not easy, we work very hard. I would have done more if I was on the road," she said.

When asked about the current intensity of the second wave, the government's response, and the way forward, she said, "I am a foot soldier, not an expert on epidemiology. Vaccination may be the best way forward as people who even got one dose are able to combat the virus better. We have to ask everybody to get it. Mumbai was extremely bad but it has come down so hopefully Bengaluru also will."

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Sudha Murty, married to Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, is one of India's leading philanthropists and also an acclaimed writer in Kannada and English. She has more than 30 books and 200 titles to her credit – including novels, non-fiction, travelogues, technical books, and memoirs.

"I wrote a book for kids during the Coronavirus lockdown. We have to be careful, follow the guidelines, be positive that this too shall pass. Being able to help others makes you more positive. Parents should spend more time with children," she said.

After heading the Infosys Foundation for more than 25 years, Murty will retire from her role in December 2021 and will continue to work on charitable efforts through her family's foundation.
Chandra R Srikanth is Editor- Tech, Startups, and New Economy