Brock University is joining the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by contributing supplies and utilizing research facilities.
Supplies of gloves, masks and chemicals have been made available to Niagara Region Public Health.
Brock researchers have also begun discussing ways to use the university’s level 3 containment laboratory, which has been approved by the Canadian government for COVID-19 research.
Laboratories are ranked from one to four depending on the potential threat of organisms or agents being studied.
At Brock’s level 3 facility, professor of biology Fiona Hunter is studying the Zika and West Nile viruses. A statement from Brock said Hunter and her students will put those studies on hold if the facility is required to conduct research on the virus causing COVID-19.
Brock’s vice-president of research, Tim Kenyon, said the university is preparing for requests that may emerge for testing and research.
“We have a wide variety of expertise and facilities here that can be deployed in the greater fight against this virus,” he said.
Brock has several level 2 labs as well, which could support COVID-19 testing if the demand from public health authorities rises.
The lab has the necessary equipment but requires critical testing materials in high demand globally, said Adam MacNeil, an immunologist and associate professor of health sciences.
“Members of my team would be happy to help at locations outside of Brock as much as here at Brock,” MacNeil said in a statement. “They have critical skills that are useful right now, and that realization – within the developing crisis — has empowered them.”
Norgen Biotek is working with the university to produce COVID-19 test kits.
“As well, we are pursuing institutional steps to secure the appropriate license modifications permitting work with (COVID-19), and to modify and upgrade the facilities themselves as needed,” said Kenyon.
Beyond the biological laboratories is a pool of expertise that can address a wide variety of facets of the unfolding pandemic, including financial data analysis, risk management and children’s mental health, the university said.
Kenyon continues to receive expressions of interest from across the research community at Brock in response to the pandemic.
“We continue to explore ways to support innovative research projects that can help in the fight against this pandemic,” he said.