PHE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 | Cork Institute of Technology researcher helps to develop a key reagent in the COVID-19 testing process

Dr Brigid Lucey, from EURASHE member Cork Institute of Technology’s BioExplore Research Group and her colleague Dr. Martina Scallan in University College Cork led a collaborative effort with colleagues in Teagasc, CUH, UL and Eli Lilly to successfully develop an effective lysis buffer formula for a key component of the COVID-19 testing process. This is one of the integral parts of the Covid-19 test. The agent not only strips the virus to be analysed from the respiratory secretions in the test sample but it also renders the highly infectious viral agent safe in a laboratory environment. The formula can be mass produced in Ireland and can be made available to other countries worldwide. This will help to alleviate the global shortage of testing agents for the virus.

“The unstinting cooperation, positivity and generosity of all involved, with participants drawn from the public and private biopharma sectors as well as hospital laboratories and third level research facilities, has enabled a successful outcome which may benefit testing laboratories everywhere. We hope that these efforts can help all those working so tirelessly in the forefront of the battle to contain and overcome COVID-19” she said.

The Irish team will make the formula for their lysis buffer, together with its performance characteristics, available via Internet science sites to assist other countries worldwide battling the pandemic through exhaustive testing.

More information.

Check out more stories from the Irish PHE Community.

PHE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 | P.PORTO combats isolation with unprecedented program

EURASHE member, the Polytechnic of Porto, through its Office for Academic and Professional Integration (GIAP), created an initiative to tackle the rising cases of anxiety and depression due to prolonged isolation.

Aware of the unprecedented situation, the ActivAmente program of the Polytechnic of Porto seeks to minimize and respond to mental health issues in times of COVID-19. “The program consists of the development of different tips and activities, to be performed regularly, always in the logic of mental health”, explains Paulo Santos, Pro-President of P.PORTO and promoter of this initiative.

In particular, the ActivAmente program proposes recommendations to stay active while staying at home, through online classes and suggestions for sports activities to be carried out twice a day.

“The institution must respond to the needs of its community,” says the Pro-President, “this is a difficult period, but it is our duty to create conditions that combat isolation, prevent and help extreme cases and encourage physical activity. we are adapting to today’s reality, with the resources we have available”.

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PHE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 | Mondragon Team Acadamy teams up with companies, foundations and NGOs to mobilize young people against Coronavirus

Mondragon Team Academy, an organization made by students and team-entrepreneurs communities born in 2007 within the Faculty of Business Studies of EURASHE’s member Mondragon University, has teamed up with other entities promoting social innovation to launch Creating for Humanity, a platform which aims to encourage a mass mobilization of young people in search of effective and rapid solutions to the Coronavirus crisis.

The platform unifies the three types of active calls in support of young innovators (Ideas, Solutions and Start-ups) with the common motto of #YouthInCharge, because it is time for young people to lead as a team the solutions that society needs.

Ideas in Action (#IdeasForHumanity)
Aimed at innovators between 9 and 18 years old, it aims to centralize the proposals of groups of students, schools or families that work together to face challenges in their environment.
Part of this group are the calls promoted by Ashoka and Danone (Feeding the Change), Ashoka and Fundación Telefónica (STEAM Challenge and Radical Curiosity. Fuller Educational Challenge), and Fundación ‘La Caixa’ through Educaixa and IrsiCaixa through the Living Health Lab (Coronavirus Community LAB).
Solutions (#SolutionsForHumanity)
Call for projects already started by social innovators of legal age, although still in a pilot phase.
Here stands out the example of the Covida app, founded by MTA-LEINN social entrepreneurs, which connects the needs of single or vulnerable people with volunteers willing to help them with their purchases, providing them with the food, medicine or other materials they may need during confinement.
Part of this group are the calls led by Bridge for Billions (The Leap) and Fundación ‘La Caixa’ through EduCaixa and IrsiCaixa with Living Lab de Salud (Coronavirus Community LAB).
Start-Ups (# Start-upsForHumanity)
Calls for start-ups or small social companies with the potential to grow and multiply the positive effects of their work in the fight against COVID-19.
The two calls for Ship2B (Tech4Health, Tech4Social and DKV Impacta) can be found here.
All the information is available at where families, schools, young entrepreneurs and start-ups can join this “massive call to action” for the good of humanity.

More information here.

PHE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 | Helping those in need with Van Buren Voor Buren (VBVB)

The Professional Higher Education community is showing a great commitment to face the challenges produced by the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

This time it was Frederik Sieler, a third-year student of EURASHE’s member Hotelschool The Hague campus Amsterdam, to take action and support his community, creating the website Van Buren Voor Buren (VBVB) and helping those who are in need of assistance.

“I’ve been studying at Hotelschool The Hague Amsterdam campus for 3 years now. During that time, I have learned to appreciate and become part of this amazing city and community. In light of the coronavirus outbreak, sitting at home and not being able to help, bothered me. Therefore I recently launched a website to connect those who are willing to help and those that are in need of support.” said Frederik, who in little time was able to gather together more than 30 volunteers to help him with his initiative.

“I believe that if we work together we can overcome anything, even if it is a pandemic! Every small act can and will have a huge impact (sometimes it might not be immediately visible, like staying at home, washing your hands or social distancing, but it is worth it). The current situation can be very overwhelming, especially, since it is extremely difficult to fathom the extensive impact a pandemic has on all aspects of life. Taking action and supporting each other is essential in overcoming this crisis.”, added the student.

Visit the website here.

More information here.

PHE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 | The first batch of protective shields is on the way to Lithuanian health care institutions

EURASHE member, Vilniaus Kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences and its Faculty of Electronics and Informatics together with the School of Robotics and UAB “CGTrader”, are in a hurry to help Lithuanian medical staff. Specialists will try to reduce the lack of face shields.

With the immense need for protective equipment against the virus that caused the global pandemic, the representatives of the Faculty of Electronics and Informatics of Vilniaus Kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences : Vytautas Netikša, Tomas Kasperavičius and Paulius Šakalys joined the action organised by the Robotics School in the course of which  the frames for protective face shields are being prepared.  The sequence of the device preparation is as follows: plastic sheets provided by the initiative coordinator UAB “CGTrader” are being joined with the frames printed at the Faculty. We are delighted that the first batch of thirty protective shields will reach our medical staff already today.

Although we are living in a state of unprecedented uncertainty, right now, the implementation of such a socially responsible activity is becoming increasingly important and necessary.

More information here.