St George's Students Man Covid-19 Testing Centre

Those on clinical pharmacology course helping with lateral flow testing

Second year Clinical Pharmacology students helping to run the asymptomatic testing centreSecond year Clinical Pharmacology students helping to run the asymptomatic testing centre

Students at St George’s University are helping to run a coronavirus testing centre for their fellow students, to ensure they are all safe to go home for Christmas.

Second year students on the university’s Clinical Pharmacology course are helping to manage the ‘lateral flow’ swab tests for students who do not have symptoms. These tests provide results within an hour.

Students across the UK have been asked to take two tests, three days apart.

If they test negative, many students will leave university in the “travel window” starting from 3 December.

Student Jade Vince told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it’s been “incredible” to be asked to help run the tests.

“Asymptomatic Covid testing is so important, especially when it comes to students returning home, and in their own heart feeling like it’s safe to do so. So I feel like in any situation, being able to contribute just a small amount is so important,” she said.

She said the pandemic has helped her to realise the importance of her degree.

“To see it so close to home really makes you realise that you are going into a life changing field. You know, without the work that the scientists and doctors have done this year, this country would have been in a very difficult position,” she said.

“If anything, it’s made me want to strive harder to get into this field in order to have that kind of impact. I think everyone across the country has seen how inspiring these people in the NHS are. And in the lab everyone from the receptionist to the cleaner, it’s just showing the importance of every single person in that organisation, in order for us to get back to day to day living.”

Fellow student Fatima Bouraoui said she’s “loved” getting involved with the testing and wants to work in clinical trials in the future.

“This is essentially my career plan, and this has just made me love it even more,” she said.

Their course leader, Professor Emma Baker, is particularly proud of her students.

“Obviously, it’s a terrible pandemic. So to be excited in the pandemic feels a bit inappropriate in a way. But it is obviously exactly what we are training our students for, to be involved in drug development and research. So to be at a time when that is really evident to everybody and really important, is really exciting.”

She explained, “We as a course thought that this potentially could be a good work experience opportunity for our students. And we asked our students if they would be prepared to be involved, and we had pretty much a universal vote from all of our second years. I’m really proud of them, and the way they have stepped up to help the community.”

The course has been rearranged for this year, bringing work experience that would normally be at the end of next year forward.

“They’ve just been absolutely fantastic,” said Professor Baker.

“Our students have had the opportunity to work in an environment where they need to be safe, they need to keep themselves safe, and other people safe. Because potentially, there’s risk of catching Covid from doing sample processing, etc. So they’ve had that opportunity to learn to use personal protective equipment, to keep everything really clean and sterile, and work in that environment.

“People come into the testing centre to do their swabs. And the Clinical Pharmacology students are responsible for talking people through the swab, processing the samples, reading the results, and uploading them to the NHS Test and Trace, which is a really responsible job because you’ve got to do it properly so that people’s test results are accurate.

“Obviously, they’re supervised heavily by staff to make sure they do it properly. And they’re fully trained, but they’ve just taken to it like a duck to water. I’m so proud of them. They’ve done all the training, they’ve done everything on time, they’ve turned up to work on time, they’ve shown amazing professionalism.”

She said the university will do as it is asked to by the Government, and can reopen the testing centre in January and again in March if it is asked to do so.

The current centre will be open to students at the university until 14 December.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

December 7, 2020