Technicians' involvement in the fight against COVID19

by Richard Marguerie de Rotrou

Deputy Director of Operations (Infrastructure and Facilities), College of Life and Environmental Sciences

We have gone through challenging moments over the past few weeks. Our communities have stepped up to the plate to confront the many challenges we have been facing. At the University of Birmingham, technicians have delivered every effort in the fight against COVID-19, bringing expertise and skills where needed. These are a few examples.

Using their knowledge and experience, technicians at the University have been involved in sequencing the virus using qPCR and robotic nucleic acid extraction platforms. This will allow a greater understanding of the threat and enable the development of a vaccine. It will also support the increase in the nation's testing and diagnostic effort. 

Another endeavour has been to develop recipes to produce hand sanitiser. Birmingham City Council has asked for urgent help to make hand sanitiser for their Social Care teams who need to work with the elderly and vulnerable. As stocks of commercially produced sanitiser were running low, technicians at the University have been working on rotas to make, bottle, stock and deliver sanitiser, providing support to the Social and Healthcare sector.

The University of Birmingham has also been involved in providing the NHS with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Since we have reduced our research and teaching activities substantially, technicians have been collecting gloves, patient gowns, surgeon gloves, masks and goggles and offered these items to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.