SPECIALIST equipment supplied by the University of Salford will help the government to run tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests per day.

Staff at the university handed over a much-needed testing machine last week to armed forces personnel who transferred the kit to a company tasked by the government with upping the number of COVID-19 tests that can be carried out.

The Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction equipment, or RT-PCR, can detect as little as one virus particle in swabs taken from inside the mouth or nose. The ABI 7500 machine is normally used by University researchers looking into lung inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.

In addition the university has donated significant quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. Biomedical science staff returned to campus following its closure to collect the much-needed equipment and deliver it to the local hospital.

This included around 37,000 pairs of disposable gloves, over 500 lab coats, 100 pairs of safety glasses and 10 full body suits, as well as a supply of hand sanitiser after widespread reports of kit shortages in the NHS.

The University’s Maker Space is also gearing up to support the health service. The Maker Space – a state-of-the-art engineering and digital fabrication facility – has developed a prototype using the open-source Prusa design and with feedback from Salford Royal Hospital.

The visor, which is now being tested by Salford Royal, is aiming to be 90 per cent sterilisable, and will go into production this week. It is hoped that production can be scaled to produce 75 visors a day, with these products being donated to Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.

The design developed by the Maker Space team is now being sent out to commercial fabricators and university technical departments in the North West to scale production and meet the numbers needed for NHS frontline staff.

Professor Sheila Pankhurst, Dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Environment, said: “I am so proud of the way in which university staff have stepped up to support our NHS at this vital time. As a civic university, we are committed to supporting our community and local partners at all times, but never more so than now as part of this national effort to combat coronavirus.

“Staff acted swiftly and with great generosity to get much needed supplies and equipment to the frontline of this battle. When we put the call out for volunteers, we were inundated with staff wanting to help. We are all so grateful for all the work that the NHS is doing – and that includes many of our current students and alumni who work in these vital services – so this contribution is the least that we could do.”

As the NHS continues to manage the impact of the coronavirus, University of Salford students are at the heart of the health care response. Dozens of final year biomedical science students and those currently out on placement are working in hospitals across Salford and Greater Manchester, including biomedical science apprentices.

The University also has significant numbers of nursing and midwifery students on placement in the NHS across Greater Manchester.