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Trinity alumni pursue PPE supplies in UK-China collaboration to protect NHS and Social Care staff

Trinity alumna Professor Sadaf Farooqi is spearheading a Cambridge-China appeal to raise £5 million for PPE and alumnus Professor Yang Xia has donated and shipped facemasks from China to Cambridge. The equipment is intended to protect NHS and Social Care staff in the East of England.

Sadaf Farooqi did her PhD in Medicine at Trinity, starting in 1997, and is now Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Metabolism and Medicine at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, which is based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. She was galvanised to set up the Cambridge China COVID-19 Collaboration (4-C PPE Appeal) to protect her colleagues. Professor Farooqi said:

‘Our clinical colleagues are anxious about the risks associated with treating patients without adequate PPE. This is the stimulus for my colleagues and I to ensure this initiative succeeds.

The number of patients infected with COVID-19 will remain high for the foreseeable future. Without adequate PPE, health care professionals exposed to a high viral load as part of their work may contract the virus. To address the ongoing shortage, there is an urgent need to purchase high quality PPE now.’

Professor Xia is Deputy Chairman at Shandong Yingcai University in China. He studied Natural Sciences as a Trinity undergraduate and went on a PhD in Neuroscience/Pharmacology, which he completed in 2011.

He felt motivated to donate a shipment of face masks after hearing of the shortages in the UK. His donation has gone to the Cambridge logistics centre established to receive donations of PPE from University departments, science parks and alumni. The equipment is distributed to GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere in the East of England.

I certainly hope that the face masks will help. It was the least I should do; the University feels like my second home. I only regret that it wasn’t easier for me to get hold of even more supplies in the first instance, so I could be sending yet more!

The impetus behind the 4C PPE Appeal has come from Professor Farooqi, Professor Toni Vidal Puig, also at the Institute of Metabolic Science, Angela Single, with long experience of the NHS, and Daping Chu, Professor of Engineering and Academic Director at the Cambridge University-Nanjing Centre for Technology and Innovation.

The appeal seeks to raise £5 million to secure PPE for NHS and Social Care staff in the East of England, with an initial target of £100,000. To date, £85,000 has been raised, which will fund:

17,000 high grade FFP3 masks or

80,000 fluid resistant surgical masks or

7,000 surgical gowns or protective HAZMAT suits

Among the recent posts on the 4C PPE website are:

Nicola: ‘Protected health care workers mean protected patients.’

Matthew: ‘Good luck to everyone involved. Great to see innovation like this to help tackle this crisis’

Ian: ‘NHS staff deserve to be protected by high-quality PPE while they care for us. Thank you NHS for everything that you do

The 4-C PPE Appeal is also working with UK academics in London, Bristol and Manchester and companies in Materials Science and Engineering to develop new types of filter media that can be used to make high-grade respirator masks at low cost.

Professor Xia, who co-founded the Trinity in China Alumni Association, says the experience of COVID-19 has led him to reflect on many aspects of life.

I thought about the people I really cared about and re-established a few contacts that had been lost for nearly a decade! It is as pointless complaining about the idleness now as about the busyness before. In some sense, the way one spends a pandemic may just be the way one spends a lifetime.

We are in this together, and my thoughts are with everyone in the College. May the College and all its members battle through this pandemic safe and sound.

You can donate to the Cambridge China COVID-19 Collaboration (4C) PPE Appeal.

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