Technical Services in Universities and Research Institutes across the country have been working extremely hard in turning their efforts towards all aspects of the fight to end Covid-19. This includes the production of hand sanitiser and ventilator parts for the NHS, donating equipment to testing centres, sequencing the virus and racing to develop a vaccine.
Critical staff are also working at institutions across the control to ensure key facilities are maintained, to allow research to recommence at a safe point in the future. As well as ensuring all specialist equipment and resources are made available to assist the NHS, they are facilitating the moving of all teaching resources online.
The importance of these efforts cannot be overstated, so we have put together some of our favourite good news stories to celebrate the hard work of these individuals and organisations.
The British Armed Forces have collected 16 polymer chain reaction machines from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University and taken them to the new Covid-19 testing centre in Milton Keynes. These machines have a combined value of £1 million, and can perform an estimated 20,000 tests per day.
This also comes as more than 600 students from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham have volunteered to support local hospitals.
As the NHS warns that 20,000 life saving ventilators are needed, UK firms like Prodrive, a motorsport engineering group, highlight the important role their technicians can play in the rapid production of this lifesaving equipment.
David Richards, the chairman of Prodrive and industry body Motorsport UK, said the sector is uniquely placed to help because it is used to making changes to complicated systems at short notice. He added: ‘What makes us so suitable is the extra skillsets we have and our immaculate facilities.’
Technicians in the creative industries can sign up to get 6 months free membership with the Creative Industries Federation, who will “support you with relevant news and updates whilst you navigate the challenges of the ongoing Coronavirus emergency.”
This initiative is particularly aimed at freelancers and micro businesses, who are expected to be amongst those hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute is collaborating with expert groups across the UK to analyse the genetic code of Covid-19 samples. Through a £20 million investment, this research will deliver large scale, rapid sequencing of the cause of the disease and share intelligence with hospitals, regional NHS centres and the Government.
The sequencing centres involved include Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.
By looking at the whole virus genome in people who have had confirmed cases of COVID-19, scientists can monitor changes in the virus at a national scale to understand how the virus is spreading and whether different strains are emerging.
Departments, research groups and individuals from the University of York have come together and donated 6 van loads of equipment including hand gels, personal protective equipment and cleaning materials to donate to York Teaching Hospitals before the closure of their campus on Friday. This effort was driven by Graeme McAllister and David Pugh who saw an incredible response from technicians across the university. David Pugh said: “We contacted the hospital and said we would hold on to the stuff until they needed it, but they replied within the hour and said – rather scarily – “send it now”.”