The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is undertaking vital work in partnership with a number of organisations including Public Health England (PHE) and the National Health Service (NHS) to get the COVID-19 outbreak under control.
As part of a wider response from the Ministry of Defence to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dstl experts have been tasked to take on a number of roles depending on the direction of the outbreak.
Professor Tim Atkins, Senior Technical Fellow within the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Division at Dstl explains: “Here at DHL we are doing vital work in partnership with a number of organisations to help get this outbreak under control and to ensure that we as a nation rid this country of this disease.”
Dstl scientists are supporting PHE on a number of technologies to speed up the identification of the virus, as well as refining a test that works similar to a pregnancy test which can show if an individual has been exposed to the virus.
Professor Atkins explains: “We are supporting in two key areas. We’re using our skills and our experts to help perform diagnostic tests within NHS hospitals currently and they are really important in fighting the disease.
“There are there are two types of tasks that might be used in this scenario. There are the current tests which primarily relying probes and they look for virus within human fluids and there’s also a task that works a little bit like a pregnancy test that’s based on an antibody.
“We are currently looking at both of those technologies and how we might use them together or improve them. We’re really trying to drive some innovation with our industrial partners into that area of the government’s response in order to increase the number of tests that we can perform per day.”
Dstl’s capabilities are able to be configured in a variety of ways in order to make the most of its infrastructure. Professor Atkins says: “We have a lot of infrastructure here at Dstl that we can use in the COVID-19 response from handling high containment pathogens to developing kits.
“We have a cadre of staff and that staff expertise can be really employed in a number of flexible ways depending upon what the current challenges and where the United Kingdom government wants us to put our efforts at any particular time.”
The Professor was upbeat about the future and wants people to maintain their own physical and mental wellbeing.
He says: “Above all, remember that we will conquer this disease and life will get back to normal so please look after your physical and mental health and just remember that that our scientists are working towards moving us out of this situation as quickly as they possibly can do and we all want this disease beaten and it to be beaten fast.”
Dstl are Official Event Partners at DPRTE 2020. The event’s Technology and Innovation Knowledge Transfer Zone will bring together some of the leading technology organisations, such as DASA and Dstl, to deliver sessions designed to keep you up to date on defence technology innovations, how to access funding and how you can bring your product to the marketplace.
Dstl’s Division Head for Defence and Security Analysis, Rob Solly, will also be a speaker at the event’s Keynote Arena.
As Dstl’s Division Head for Defence and Security Analysis since April 2015, Mr Solly is responsible for delivering approximately £100M of research and analysis per year. This work is delivered by a broad range of industrial and academic partners as well as Rob’s Division of 600 analysts, human scientists and systems engineers.
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