Coronavirus: UAE scientists unite in battle to contain Covid-19

Citizen Science appeals for critical equipment and components to help contain the pandemic

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Leading scientists have joined forces in Abu Dhabi to tackle pressing healthcare problems presented by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Citizen Science is a collective of 20 UAE scientists, researchers and engineers invited to come up with innovative solutions to ease medical pressures exerted by the pandemic.

Led by the Technology Innovation Institute, a research centre in Abu Dhabi, experts will focus on improving access to personal protective equipment, ventilators and rapid testing kits.

“This disease does not discriminate, know boundaries or care about humanity,” said Dr Mohamed Al Teneiji, the Emirati chief research officer.

“We cannot fight it with rhetoric or resolve, we must act.

“Simply, innovating new ways of producing and supplying our frontliners and patients with more efficient medical equipment could be the difference between life and death for many thousands of people.

“Citizen Science has banded together to bring new solutions to the operating table.”

The group has already successfully assembled its first ventilator prototype, which is now undergoing internal tests before being sent for external verification.

Engineers at the TII are using the latest technologies to produce artificial intelligence-powered chest X-ray machines and 3D-printed medical equipment parts.

Other innovations include exploring new ways to sterilise personal protective equipment used in clinics and large public spaces and how to maximise the use of ventilators to treat three patients at a time.

The centre has appealed to all UAE-based businesses, manufacturers, distributors, engineers and the wider scientific community to contribute to the initiative’s mass production ambitions.

Researchers said the donation of equipment, resources, raw materials, knowledge transfer and vital parts can be the difference that turns the tide against an invisible enemy.

Forward-thinking efforts to address medical needs during the pandemic have already been taken across the Emirates.

While Masdar City-based AES Venture continues to develop its Mondialab Pro blood test device to give health authorities real-time updates on recent diagnoses of coronavirus, other firms are addressing the shortfall in protective equipment.

Factories in Sharjah and Dubai have been used by Immensa Technology Labs as 3D printing production lines for thousands of low-cost face shields to be used in hospitals and by the food industry.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Abu Dhabi have developed a mobile phone app to identify anyone who may have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for the virus.

TraceCovid uses Bluetooth to pick up phone signals from anyone with the app who has tested positive to ensure the correct quarantine protocols are met to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Citizen Science has listed the critical equipment in demand to aid management of the pandemic across the country.

It includes 3D printers, laser cutters, valves, fans and ultraviolet light sensors.

Insiders said once the UAE need has been fulfilled, any surplus can be exported globally to areas most in need of supplies.

“At this unprecedented time, we are here to act and provide collectively for those who are giving everything for us,” Dr Al Teneiji said.

“We must all be able to look back at this phase of human history and say without doubt that we did everything we could.”