As the country goes into lockdown, more than 25 PhD students and research staff have volunteered to help University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) with testing patients for COVID-19 in the coming weeks.
The university has also drawn up a list of equipment it could provide to the NHS to help it increase the number of tests it can carry out.
Many of the volunteers are overseas students who cannot get home and want to help our local NHS services, which will be under growing pressure during the outbreak.
Coventry University already trains hundreds of student nurses and allied healthcare professionals every year through its Faculty of Health and Life Sciences in Coventry and its CU campus in Scarborough – many of whom work on placements with local NHS trusts.
Professor Helen Maddock, Executive Director of Coventry University’s Centre for Sports, Exercise and Life Sciences, said: “Some of the students who have volunteered are from France and Pakistan and are unable to get home themselves to be with their families but want to do whatever they can to support and help their local hospital during this unprecedented time.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed with the response and very proud of our students.”
Some of the duties the student volunteers are capable of carrying out include extraction of DNA and RNA, which will then be tested for the COVID-19 strain.
Mr Raja Idris, who is researching the relationship between cardiovascular disease and obesity for his PhD is one of those who has volunteered and is ready to help UHCW when called upon.
He said: “At the moment the lab is closed and with this madness surrounding COVID-19 I just wanted to help in any way that I could.”
“I told them I’m available if they need me, even if that’s just ushering people about at the hospital.”
In addition to the volunteers, equipment such as RNA and DNA extraction kits have been put aside by the university, for use by the NHS if it is needed to ramp up the number of tests it carries out for COVID-19.
Prof Maddock added: “We have been liaising with government officials, relevant biotechnology companies and UHCW over the weekend to collate what equipment and reagents we have available which could be used to help but we are waiting to hear back on what is needed and where. We are ready to do what we can to help.”