STUDENTS and staff from the city’s two universities are actively responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This support ranges from continuing to provide the government with scientific advice, to donating PPE and clinical laboratories, helping out with coronavirus testing and even making hand santiser for the NHS.
WARWICK University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft has highlighted five ways in which his staff and students are assisting the fight against coronavirus in the community and nationally.
Two top Warwick University academics and their teams continue to help the government as dozens of Warwick Medical School research staff return to practise medicine across the region, a team of chemistry researchers manufactures its first batch of hand santiser for Midlands NHS organisations and protective kit is donated to University Hospital, Coventry.
Prof Croft said: “There are many ways in which universities can actively assist in the response to the pandemic. Many of our staff and students have not just been asking how they can help but they have simply got on and done so. I want to give my personal thanks to each and every one of them and make particular note of what they have done to help. I hope very soon to be able to tell you about even more about the work of many more of our dedicated staff and students I these challenging times”
Professor Matt Keeling, and his team the University of Warwick’s Mathematics Institute are continuing to advise the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), using his expertise in epidemiology modelling. Prof Keeling specialises in predicting the spread and control of infectious diseases from pandemic influenza to foot-and-mouth disease.
He and his team of 20 at the The Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology & Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research (SBIDER) use a range of scientific techniques from mathematical models and statistical analysis to field experiments and questionnaires.
Ivo Vlaev, Professor of Behavioural Science in Warwick Business School (WBS), whose research interests include human decision making and behaviour change, is working with the Covid-19 Behavioural Change Unit for NHS England.
Last week a team of researchers from the University of Warwick’s Department of Chemistry worked together to produce 50 litres of sanitiser using a World Health Organisation (WHO) approved formula. They are now working with colleagues in Warwick Medical School to distribute it to Midlands NHS staff.
Professor Dave Haddleton said: “This is just the first batch. We are about to make a further 200 litres giving further support to Midlands NHS organisations.”
Warwick’s research labs have suspended activity in line with the government’s lockdown advice but as many as possible stored significant supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were delivered to Coventry’s University Hospital.
Neil Gillespie, a Senior Civil Engineering Technician in Warwick’s School of Engineering, and Alan Warwood Head of Facilities in Warwick’s Estates Office pulled together a team of colleagues from across all the estates team and science departments to gather up the equipment.
So far they have supplied 155 face masks, 470 over glasses, 400 safety glasses, 20,400 nitrile gloves of various sizes and 1,000 shoe covers.
Warwick Medical School has also made a set of Clinical Sciences Research Laboratories in a building adjacent to University Hospital, Coventry, available to support Covid-19 clinical lab work.
And dozens of Warwick Medical School research staff, who have joint appointments with NHS trusts, are now focusing entirely on their clinical roles within hospitals and GP practices across the Midlands.
MORE than 25 PhD students and research staff at Coventry University have volunteered to help frontline staff at the city’s University Hospital test patients for coronavirus.
Many of the volunteers are overseas students who cannot get home and want to help their local NHS hospital in the coming weeks.
Professor Helen Maddock, executive director of Coventry University’s Centre for Sports, Exercise and Life Sciences, said: “Some of the students who have volunteered are from France and Pakistan and are unable to get home themselves to be with their families but want to do whatever they can to support and help their local hospital during this unprecedented time. I am absolutely overwhelmed with the response and very proud of our students.”
Duties the student volunteers are capable of carrying out include extraction of DNA and RNA, which will then be tested for the Covid-19 strain.
PhD student Raja Idris, who is researching the relationship between cardiovascular disease and obesity for his PhD, is one of those who has volunteered and is ready to help UHCW when called upon.
He said: “At the moment the lab is closed and with this madness surrounding Covid-19 I just wanted to help in any way that I could. I told them I’m available if they need me, even if that’s just ushering people about at the hospital.”
The university has also drawn up a list of equipment it could provide to the NHS to help it increase the number of tests it can carry out. Equipment such as RNA and DNA extraction kits have been put aside by the university, for NHS use if it is needed to ramp up the number of coronavirus tests carried out.
Prof Maddock said “We have been liaising with government officials, relevant biotechnology companies and UHCW over the weekend to collate what equipment and reagents we have available which could be used to help but we are waiting to hear back on what is needed and where. We are ready to do what we can to help.”
Coventry University trains hundreds of student nurses and allied healthcare professionals every year through its Faculty of Health and Life Sciences in Coventry and its CU campus in Scarborough – many of whom work on placements with local NHS trusts.
WEST Midlands Ambulance Service’s head of emergency operations, Nathan Hudson, tweeted yesterday: “We are receiving huge support from our university students who are desperate to do their part to help the nation at this time.”
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