Essex Freemasons help raise £100,000 funding to test for Covid-19

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Essex Freemasons are helping to fund a £100,000 research project to provide up to 2,000 antibody tests a day for Covid-19 across the entire East England region. It will help to significantly increase testing levels which could help key NHS staff and care home teams back to work

The money will be used to purchase a new advanced testing machine from America, which will accept blood samples from NHS hospitals in every part of the region to verify whether people have already had the Covid-19 virus. Those showing antibodies will be followed long-term to see if the antibodies confer immunity that would allow them to return to work.

The machine, a ‘Dynex high volume pipette diluter’ will be used by scientists led by Prof Bill Fraser of the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. It will come online by July and until then a second hand unit is being put into place to ensure that testing can start as soon as possible.

Rodney Bass, Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons, commented: 'Essex Freemasons have joined with colleagues in Norfolk, Suffolk and Hertfordshire to ensure that the University of East Anglia receives the funds it needs to increase testing levels across the entire region.

'Until now the University, acknowledged to be one of the best medical microbiology research centres in the country, has only been able to handle a few hundred antibody tests each day. This new high throughput machine will significantly increase that level to 2,000 daily, which could make a huge difference to our hard pressed NHS and care home workers.

'This is one of many Covid-19 initiatives that Essex Freemasons have agreed to fund and support and I am delighted that we have been able to make such a difference in helping to fight this life threatening disease.'

The new machine will be available to help all members of the community across East England Region after vital care home and NHS staff have been tested. Once this first stage is completed the wider population will also be included to help get the entire region back to work.

David Ellis, Director of Development at the University of East Anglia, commented: 'We are incredibly grateful to Freemasons for their support. This new machine will make a huge difference and is capable of testing up to 200 samples an hour.

'Until now our blood sample testing capacity has been limited and it is essential to know whether key workers have already had the disease and developed some immunity to it, so that they can get back to work as quickly as possible. The tests will show clinicians who has developed antibodies which could give them some level of immunity, allowing them to safely return to looking after patients.'

In addition to funding the new machine, Essex Freemasons have pledged more than £30,000 on local community projects, providing visors for up to 400 care homes across the County. Other initiatives are now being considered with a further potential funding of up to £100,000.

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