SA universities immerse themselves in Covid-19 work
Universities South Africa (USAf) announced that public universities have immersed themselves in manufacturing and supplying medical equipment and also undertaking clinical trials and participating in much needed screening, testing and contact tracing as part of fighting Covid-19.
According to Professor Ahmed Bawa, USAf’s chief executive officer, the universities are now conducting a Covid-19 research to find urgently needed solutions. He said in order to mitigate the risks to the most vulnerable, universities are providing strategic counsel to local, provincial and national government structures from the perspective of epidemiological models and public health strategies.
"These universities are also providing much-needed public information on the unprecedented pandemic. Our universities are engaging in integrated multi-disciplinary COVID-19 research aimed at addressing this enormous challenge the world faces.
Even under lockdown conditions, research work is seeking solutions in areas such as epidemiology, vaccine development, biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, medical and bio-engineering, data analytics, ICT, social, economic, public policy development and much more,” Bawa said.
He said some of the on-going research is being undertaken in transdisciplinary, bi-lateral or multi-institutional collaborations, and also with pharmaceutical and other manufacturing companies, civil society organisations, South Africa’s science councils as well as international, multilaterals such as the World Health Organisation.
“Our member institutions are working hard on the large global challenge of improving the treatment of Covid-19 patients, in vaccine development, in identifying existing and new drugs to combat the disease and studying the socioeconomic impact of the virus on individuals and on society as whole,” Bawa said.
He said medical schools at public universities are participating in the public health emergency solidarity clinical trials exploring four options (remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, lopinavir/ritonavir plus interferon, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine) for the treatment of Covid-19.
“We also have leading researchers from five of our public institutions who are undertaking the Coronavirus Rapid Mobile (CRAM) Survey, which is investigating and tracking changes in social and economic outcomes of Covid-19 in a nationally representative sample of 10,000-20,000 South African individuals over the next six months. H
alf of our 26-member institutions are in the frontline battles of Covid-19, participating either in the drug development, clinical trials, or are, to varying degrees, involved in symptomatic screening; diagnostic testing or contact tracing.
The University of South Africa has offered its Ormonde facilities in Johannesburg to the Gauteng Provincial Government for use as quarantine facilities,” Bawa said.
He said 14 of the universities are either manufacturing medical devices and protective and safety equipment, inventing smart ICT solutions to realise efficiencies in the fight against Covid-19.
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