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Higher education champions innovation as part of COVID-19 response
6 April 2020
With the coronavirus outbreak evolving rapidly in the UK, many of London First’s members have looked at ways to support the national attempts to control the spread. Our university members are no exception. University College London (UCL), Imperial College London and King’s College London are among those that have played a leading role, ranging from launching new tools, through to advising governments around the world on the epidemic.
Last week, alongside two NHS Trusts and app developer Zoe, King’s launched a Symptom Tracker app, giving everyone the opportunity to input their symptoms and to offer researchers a real-time picture of the crisis. This data will help researchers understand COVID-19 symptoms, identify high-risk areas in the country and highlight who is most at risk. 1.5 million people have already inputted data into the app.
A prototype ventilator developed by a team of engineers also at King’s College is on the verge of going into mass production. The last hurdle for the OxVent ventilator, touted as a simple design relying on off-the-shelf components, will be passing MHRA safety tests before starting production with a manufacturer in Hull.
Engineers at UCL have been working alongside Formula One’s Mercedes-AMG to produce an innovative breathing aid known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) for the NHS. Already used by patients in Italy and China, the aid will help COVID-19 patients with serious lung infections breathe more easily.
In West London, researchers from Imperial College have been providing critical analysis to governments overseas around the world, helping inform their response to the pandemic. Imperial is also busy developing a form of DNA therapy, rapid testing and new ventilator technology. Headway is also being made on an RNA vaccine cure for COVID-19, with tests on animals underway since February.
Other universities have also stepped up to the plate, with Westminster sending equipment to testing facilities across the country, and Roehampton offering free shuttle buses to NHS workers.
Organisations across London will be keen to play their part – keep an eye out on here and on our social media as we will be showcasing the best of these initiatives as we join together to combat this pandemic.
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