Unis in Vietnam making impressive progress in anti-COVID-19 tech

STUDENTS and scientists at the Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM) have carried out extensive research and developed products that help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Out of 2,000 projects from 79 countries, one project on producing protein from the Ecoli bacteria by a student team from the University of Science won a sponsorship from the Agence Universitaire de La Francophonie – a society of universities offering training in the French language.

A collaboration with a company in the bio-technology industry allowed the students, Le Tran Dang Khoi and Vo Ho My Phuc, to carry out the project under Dr. Nguyen Thuy Vy, head of the genetics department at the university’s biology and bio-technology faculty.

The research was prompted by the fact that asymptomatic COVID patients and those with mild symptoms were believed to be a hurdle to control the pandemic in the community.

To detect infection, many countries use antibody tests, which is fast, easy to deploy on a large scale and has great accuracy. However, Viet Nam does not have suppliers of SARS‐CoV‐2 viral protein antigens, making it difficult for companies to seek for manufacturing antibody testing kits.

Vy said: “We use a technology that produces protein from Ecoli bacteria at a low cost. Around the world, most proteins are produced from animal tissue.

“The project does not only contribute to COVID-19 prevention but also inspires other students to take up research. The product is useful for COVID-19 tests with fast, accurate results and affordable prices.”

The VNUHCM’s National Key Laboratory of Digital Control and System Engineering (DCSELab) collaborated with the Centre of Science and Technology Development for Youth to make a mobile disinfection chamber.

With sensors detecting and automatically spraying once a person steps in, signal lights, and a 360-degree fog mist sprayer, the chamber uses anolyte solution and ultraviolet, ozone and heat disinfection technologies to help disinfect the whole body.

The chamber has been used in several hospitals around the city since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

DCSELab’s scientists also made an automatic chamber for disinfection and obtaining samples from patients without making contact. The chamber disinfects automatically before the next person enters for giving samples.

Moreover, the high-efficiency particulate air filter technology combines with UV to completely kill viruses and bacteria remaining in the air after being sucked out of the chamber.

The other COVID-19 product by DCSELab is a simple ventilator working on the principle of automatically squeezing and releasing Ambu bag to deliver air into a patient’s lungs.

There are also various other types of innovation and technology that was created by universities in Vietnam, focused on combatting COVID-19:

  • Another VNUHCM’s member university, the University of Technology, has innovated dozens of useful and convenient products to serve the community in terms of COVID-19 prevention and containment.
  • Scientists at the Bach Khoa Research Centre for Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Technology have also made a mobile disinfection system with air filters to ensure clean air is discharged in the environment. The technology has been transferred to companies for commercialisation and mass production.
  • A research team at the University of Technology’s material technology faculty has made masks that could be used by healthcare workers for continuous hours.

The faculty dean Assoc. Prof. Dr. Huynh Dai Phu said that when COVID-19 broke out, one urgent issue was a shortage of medical equipment. Healthcare workers faced a high risk of infection because of working for many hours in an environment without negative pressure chamber.

“It was very important for them to use preventive clothes, goggles and masks to prevent the risk of contracting the virus, and his team made these masks with a bacteria and air filter membrane to avoid infection,” Phu said.

  • Lecturers at the University of Technology’s mechanical engineering faculty made an automatic machine for sewing masks from anti-bacterial clothing. The university’s lecturers and students made goggles that keep out aerosols from patients using 3D printing technology and sanitizers.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mai Thanh Phong, the university’s president, said by focusing on products for COVID-19 prevention and control, students, lecturers and researchers at the university hope to contribute their abilities and efforts to the country’s combat against the pandemic. – Apr 3, 2021

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