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Professor Nigel Wright summarises NTU’s community support for the coronavirus pandemic

Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Research and Innovation explains how our work is helping national and local efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19

Nigel Wright
Professor Nigel Wright

NTU is doing lots of work to support our students’ learning and wellbeing during the current situation. As a university we are also supporting national and local efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19, both in terms of those infected with the virus and those whose livelihoods are impacted.

One of the earliest initiatives saw us partner with the University of Nottingham to supply 16 machines to support the national COVID-19 testing programme following a request from the Prime Minister. The machines were collected by the British Army and taken to a national testing centre in Milton Keynes.  They are a particular type of machine that use a technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to test for a range of viruses.  They have a total value of £1 million and can together perform an estimated 20,000 tests a day.

Subsequently, and with the University of Nottingham, we provided essential safety cabinets, known as Category 2 Cell Culture Cabinets. These offer a highly controlled environment to protect the skilled scientists, supporting them to carry out tests for COVID-19 in a safe way. The 27 cabinets, collected by the British Armed Forces, needed five 7.5 tonne trucks to move them all.

The Category 2 Cell Culture Cabinets, 16 of which have come from the Biodiscovery Institute at the University of Nottingham and 11 from here at NTU, look like big hooded cabinets. They have open fronts and a vertical airflow, so outside air is run through a filter before it gets inside. There is also a filter to clean air from inside before it goes outside the cabinet.  The cabinets had to undergo a rigorous cleaning process, made possible by teams of technicians and clinical staff, before being made available to help with the national fight against the virus.

We have also been collecting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from across NTU and providing this to the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group for distribution across health and social care facilities in the city and county.

Colleagues across several schools are using 3D printing capability to produce the components for face masks. We have worked with external partners to ensure that these are certified for use in clinical and social care situations, and are now able to increase production.

Through our links to the City Council we’ve provided fresh food from our vertical farming to Tracy's Street Kitchen (a local food bank) and non-perishable food and other items from stores will be going to the Nottinghamshire Coronavirus Community Support Hub. Confectionery will be going to NHS workers at local hospitals.

We have several other initiatives in discussion, including the creation of a programme of online activity led by our staff and students to engage with residents of care homes.

Universities will play a crucial role in helping the nation through this crisis and we at NTU will continue to do all we can to support those that need us.

Professor Nigel Wright, Deputy Vice-Chancellor - Research and Innovation, Nottingham Trent University

Check here for the latest coronavirus advice and updates from NTU.

Professor Nigel Wright summarises NTU’s community support for the coronavirus pandemic

Published on 7 April 2020
  • Category: Press office; Research

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