Universities working at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19

Date posted: April 29, 2020

With the coronavirus crisis ongoing, many Midlands universities are continuing their remarkable work to offer support, taking a proactive approach to new innovations, product development and research.

University of Birmingham supports frontline staff in the fight against COVID-19

Experts from the University of Birmingham’s Medical & Dental School, Health Technologies Institute, and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have designed a new piece of equipment to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 from patients to medical staff. The product, Aerosol Shield, moved from conception to manufacturing deal in under a week. The wrapped, disposable mini pop-up tent covers a patient’s head, neck and chest area, is quick to assemble and is significantly lighter and cheaper than existing hard box solutions.

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The University is also helping to support frontline healthcare professionals in the city, region and nationally. Its response to the pandemic includes boosting laboratory testing capacity, coordinating clinical trials of new interventions and providing practical support to NHS workers.

All the University’s latest COVID-19 Research developments, news and comment can be found here.

De Montfort University offers free support for business affected by COVID-19

Businesses, freelancers and SMEs affected by coronavirus are being offered free support from De Montfort University Leicester. Services include one-to-one sessions, online workshops, mentoring and business plan review. Plus, digital-savvy students can support with free digital marketing and social media.

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University of Nottingham nurses on The One Show and a new mental health study

200 final year student nurses from The University of Nottingham are now going into extended placements across the NHS, with 172 staying locally. The University sent a video of thanks and support to them.  BBC1’s The One Show also stepped in to offer a Zoom graduation-style ceremony to 260 final year medics, to try to compensate for them missing their proper graduation. Again, the University posted a message of support to these new graduates.

Many of these newly graduated doctors – via the normal GMC and the Trent LEP process – are expected to stay locally and find their way into Trusts over the coming weeks. There are also 120 other medical students currently volunteering in Trusts across the region.

Meanwhile, University scientists are looking for volunteers to take part in a major new study to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the physical and emotional health of people in the UK. The COVID-19 Stress and Health Study, is being carried out by experts at the University of Nottingham and King’s College London with the support of the stress hormone testing company MyFertile. The survey is UK-wide and will explore the emotional and physical impact of COVID-19 on the health of our nation.

Visit the study website for more information on how you can take part.

University of Leicester shows emissions reduction through lockdown

Timelapse satellite imagery from the University of Leicester has revealed big reductions in air pollution. Dan Potts, who is studying for a Master of Physics, worked with Professor Hartmut Boesch and Dr David Moore of the National Centre for Earth Observation to plot data from the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI).

Dan said:

I’ve been looking at nitrogen dioxide emissions from power stations. The stark reduction in emissions over a few short weeks is breathtaking.

His film shows levels of nitrogen dioxide from December 2019 to the end of March 2020 over eastern China, northern Italy and India. Nitrogen dioxide is produced from car engines, power plants and other industrial processes and is thought to exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

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Loughborough University psychologists track lifestyles over the course of a pandemic

Psychologists from Loughborough University have launched a study which aims to understand the impact of coronavirus on daily life. Aimed at people 18 and over, the survey contains questions about mental wellbeing, eating behaviours, child feeding practices, physical activity and sleep. The results will be used to assess the unique impact of the pandemic on UK lifestyles.

Dr Gemma Witcomb, lead researcher on the project, said:

The aim is to track how a number of lifestyle factors are affected over the course of the pandemic, at the start, during the middle period and then afterwards.

Never before in the UK have such circumstances occurred whereby people are experiencing.

To take part in the survey, please click here

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Keele University to make hand sanitiser and  focus on COVID-19 awareness for children

Emphasis on good hand hygiene has led to a national shortage of hand sanitiser. Pharmacy academics and technicians have offered their expertise and facilities, produced hand sanitiser using a WHO-approved formula. The products will support the needs of the local University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.

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Meanwhile, University researchers are working in collaboration with Edge Hill University to find the best ways to get news, facts and tips to children during the COVID-19 outbreak. With lots of information circulating, the team are hoping to find out how children respond to messages, and their understanding of them.

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