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Birmingham City University’s city centre campus

University joins genome alliance

University of Birmingham has joined a Government-backed alliance that aims to map the spread of Covid-19. The Covid-19 Genomics UK

Consortium (COG-UK) – comprised the NHS, academic institutions and public health agencies – will deliver large scale, rapid sequencing of the causes of the disease and share intelligence with hospitals, regionals NHS centres and the Government. Samples from patients with

confirmed cases of Covid-19 will be sent to a network of sequencing centres in Birmingham, Belfast, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.

Unconditional places to be awarded to students

Birmingham City University will provide unconditional university places for hundreds of applicants based on their GCSE grades, after the Government announced it was cancelling summer exams as part of the mitigation measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. The university has taken steps

to hand unconditional places to all students who have already been made a conditional offer of a place and already have five or more GCSEs at Grade 4 or above. Students who hold an offer but

do not meet the GCSE requirement will be given an unconditional offer on a related

foundation year course, with the possibility of progressing to a degree course depending on the Government’s alternative arrangements in lieu of exams. The move has been made to

support concerned students unsure about their future studies following the closure of schools and colleges and the cancellation of end-of-year exams. Professor Clare Mackie, deputy

vice-chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Many young people have been left feeling anxious about their futures after it was announced exams would be cancelled, but we want to make sure that the COVID-19

pandemic is no barrier to future study, education and achievement. “This pandemic is a global

issue, but we have a duty to play our part in supporting both our current, and prospective, students as much as we can during this period.”

Applicants will be contacted by

the university to update them on the latest news and their current offers will be updated to reflect the change. The development will apply to

all applicants, excluding those applying to courses which are regulated by professional bodies such as Nursing and Architecture.

NEC stands by to be temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients

The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham could be turned into a temporary hospital to treat coronavirus patients. Officials and military planners who are considering

sites for temporary hospitals have reportedly identified the NEC, home to 18 exhibition halls and close to Birmingham Airport. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday

that a new hospital, with capacity for 4,000 people, will open at London’s ExCel Arena. The temporary Nightingale Hospital has been set up

with the help of the military. An NEC spokesperson told Sky News that the multi-

purpose venue "stands ready" and is “well-equipped” to become a temporary hospital.

‘This is a remarkable collaboration which brings together Birmingham and the UK’s incredible depth of expertise’

The University of Birmingham,

led by Nick Loman, Professor of Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, have deployed a real-time genome sequencing facility established at the university, capable of sequencing genomes of the virus causing Covid-19 from patients in the West Midlands in less than 24 hours. Professor Loman said: “This is a

remarkable collaboration which brings together Birmingham and the UK’s incredible depth of expertise and knowledge in viral sequencing and genomics. “The Government’s investment is

well-timed to accelerate the pace of viral genome sequence production and ensure this information is openly available to epidemiologists and virologists worldwide.” The consortium benefits from

two major initiatives in which the University of Birmingham has played a pivotal role: ARTIC and CLIMB. The CLIMB project will provide

the data analysis pipelines, computing and storage capacity required to analyse the large genome datasets produced by the consortium, as well as facilitating national and international research capabilities. The ARTIC project, funded by a

Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award, is a collaborative project to put genomics at the heart of outbreak response.


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