In July of 2020, the European Commission launched a manifesto which aimed to maximise the accessibility of COVID-19 related research and help in the fight against the virus. The manifesto provides guiding principles for beneficiaries of EU research grants for coronavirus prevention, testing, treatment, and vaccination to ensure that their research results will be accessible for all and guarantee a return on public investment.
Earlier this summer, with the support of the Knowledge Transfer Office, the University of Malta signed the manifesto in order to share and highlight some of the excellent research that the university has contributed in the fight against COVID-19. By endorsing the manifesto, the university joins over 650 other institutions and pledges to share all COVID-related research results with other universities and signatories across the world.
Across the pandemic, the University of Malta and the KTO spearheaded a number of research-led projects in order to mitigate the effects of the virus. For example, Cov-Plex is an initiative which received funding from MCST and was led by Prof. Godfrey Grech, a member from the Department of Pathology, and Prof. Christian Scerri from the Department of Physiology & Biochemistry in order to measure the antibodies generated in COVID-19 positive patients. Another related and MCST-funded UM project is SANITAS, an R&D project which the KTO had a direct hand in throughout the process. SANITAS focused on a novel form of manufacturing disinfectant by utilising cold atmospheric plasma to generate sterile plasma-activated solutions.
In the midst of worldwide mask and protective equipment shortages, the Department of Electronic & Systems Engineering, led by Dr Ing. Marc Anthony Azzopardi, designed and built prototype equipment to be used by medical personnel to disinfect and reuse their protective equipment. Through collaboration with industry professionals supported by the KTO, this technology was implemented in Mater Dei and greatly aided healthcare professionals in staying safe against COVID-19.
These projects, amongst many others, highlight the excellent research and work that is undergone at the University of Malta and we look forward to sharing it with other institutions.