UP Faculty of Health Sciences contributes to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on May 05, 2020

The University of Pretoria (UP) is involved in several projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In particular, its Faculty of Health Sciences is involved in close to 30 projects. The pandemic has caused worldwide disruption, resulting in lockdowns in many countries due to the infectious nature of the virus. More than 220 000 deaths have been recorded globally, and this figure continues to rise.

“We have far-reaching expertise in a range of areas and are collaborating with various organisations, which has resulted in benefits,” said Professor Tiaan de Jager, Dean of UP’s Faculty of Health Sciences. “This pandemic has strengthened collaborative efforts, not only interdisciplinary research, but across borders, universities and other organisations.

“If these collaborative efforts are sustained post COVID-19, it will push research to the level where it should be. Interdisciplinary collaborations highlight the single goal we all have now, to address this pandemic. We all share the same goal.”

Some of the projects are:

  • A World Health Organization multi-centre clinical trial study for Africa is looking at various antiviral compounds. The objective is to provide reliable estimates of the effects of antiviral treatments and chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine on in-hospital mortality.
  • The South African Medical Research Council is leading a study on various rapid test methods. UP is one of the partners that will assist with providing access to patients and specimens.
  • The Department of Internal Medicine is leading a study in collaboration with Leicester University to investigate testing for COVID-19 by wearing a face mask for 30 minutes. A COVID-19 mask was developed for this, and other respiratory pathogens such as mycobacterium tuberculosis can also be identified; and
  • The Faculty is collaborating with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, by using whole genome profiles to profile the risk posed to South Africans.

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