COVID-19 has impacted us in more than one way. From the way we are being educated to how we interact with the people (not physically) around us, and even the way we’re buying our supplies.
With the lack of products that are said to help in preventing the virus, these Taylor’s University schools were quick to come up with the necessary products to help protect our community and to flatten the curve, showing that necessity is truly the mother of invention.
The first batch of hand sanitisers was made by the biomedical staff and students from the School of Biosciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Science for STEAM 2020, an annual event by the University of Dundee and British High Commission KL, held in Taylor’s University, in January.
The event was attended by 150 students from across the international and private high schools in the Klang Valley and the sanitisers were used as a safety measure for protecting the students from the coronavirus.
With a lack of supply in sanitisers and the worsening of the COVID-19 condition that soon after became a pandemic, Associate Professor Dr. Adeline Chia, Taylor’s University’s Programme Director of Biomedical Science from the School of Biosciences, shared, “We felt that there was a need to keep everyone protected during this time and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
Thus, alongside members of the faculty, they quickly took action by starting the initiative and volunteering to produce hand sanitisers for the Facilities, Emergency and Health Services & Administration, and the Marketing & Communication departments at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus. Since the STEAM event, the team has made 70 litres of hand sanitiser.
Though experts don’t recommend using D.I.Y. sanitisers as they are not effective, you can rest assured that these hand sanitisers are top grade.
The sanitisers are made in accordance with the WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations: Guide to Local Production and the bottles are labelled following the guidelines by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), Ministry of Health Malaysia.
But it doesn’t stop there! The final product is then sampled and subjected to efficacy and validation tests according to the recommended protocol.
The team hopes that this initiative would remind everybody to practice good personal hygiene and to ensure that the whole of Taylor’s community is protected. While the campus may have its physical doors shut, the School of Biosciences continues to educate the public about the virus through social media.
Credit also goes to the following people in the School of Biosciences:
(A) Production team: Dr Tang Yin Quan, Dr Yow Hui Yin, Ms Adillah Akhasan and Ms Mangalam Munisamy and those who directly and/or indirectly involved in this production.
(B) Validating the hand sanitizers: (i) Prof Dr Chong Pei Pei and Dr Jason Lee, (ii) Mr Mohd Izzuddin Alias (carried out the microbe test) and Mr Ahmad Fakhrur Razi Suahaimin (checking H2O2 content).
Not only are sanitisers scarce, but face shields also face the same fate. With the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on the 18th March, the supply of face masks and face shields in hospitals for healthcare staff nationwide soon followed suit.
This shortage led to many healthcare front-liners to resort to drastic D.I.Y. measures which include wrapping themselves in plastic bags or cling wrap.
That’s when Associate Professor Dr. Chai Hong Yeong, Medical Physicist from the School of Medicine, Taylor’s University, decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I started to browse the internet and found the open-source 3D-printed face shield design as well as the initiatives from Biji-biji Initiative and Me.reka Taylor’s on project, ‘Protect Our Front-liners’ and #KitaJagaKita.”
After getting approval from the Executive Dean of the School of Medicine, Emeritus Professor Dr. P.T. Thomas, and the University to contribute to this project, she immediately formed a team, which included two lecturers from the School of Medicine and two lecturers from the School of Computer Science and Engineering, to start working on their 3D-printing design.
The team worked effectively and efficiently, conpleting a test-run the next day and starting mass production the following. The face shield that was created is lightweight, uses less consumable parts, are reusable, and can be easily disinfected with 75% alcohol.
Not only did they make environmentally-friendly face shields, but they also created mask straps (also known as ‘Ear Savers’) which are designed to relieve earaches from wearing face masks for a long period of time.
“It is very useful for our tudung-wearing colleagues, who call it a Hijab COVID accessory,” Chai added.
Like the face shields, these mask straps are not only environmentally-friendly, they are also personal, reusable, and can be disinfected with alcohol or soap.
Using the 3D-printers and printing filaments sponsored by Taylor’s University as well as donations from her friends and family, they managed to modify the open-source design from Budmen.com to make their face shields suited to their requirements which includes durability, less consumable parts, and printing time.
The result? They produced up to 100 pieces of 3D-printed face shields and 400 pieces of 3D-printed mask straps a day for the front-liners, including healthcare staff, police forces, and volunteers. The team has also given about 1000 face shields and 1500 mask straps to various hospitals around Klang Valley.
Ever since the start of the initiative, several charitable organisations and individuals have donated and, with collective effort, has resulted in enough supply of face shields. The team is now focusing on the mask straps and another CSR project involving an Infrared (IR) thermometer with features of the Internet-of-Things.