Special Award for Pandemic Service awarded to Prof. Zhanfeng Cui
19 August 2020
Back in March, when lockdown was just beginning, Hertford’s Professor of Chemical Engineering pioneered a rapid testing solution for Covid-19 which has now been recognised with a special award from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Working with his team from OSCAR, the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research, Prof. Zhanfeng Cui FREng invented a rapid viral RNA test which can detect a Covid-19 infection in just 30 minutes without the need for specialist kit. Samples from a nose swab or saliva are added to a test tube containing all the necessary reagents which is then heated to 65°c for 30 minutes, after which results are shown by a simple colour change. This quick and easy interpretation, the fact that no labs are needed for processing, and the economical product format which doesn’t require refrigeration, means that Prof. Cui’s test could be used with huge benefit in developing countries, as well as in community settings here in the UK.
The test has been validated with clinical samples and a social venture spinout, Oxsed Limited, has been formed to develop it. The first product, Oxsed RaViD Direct, has received a CE Mark and is now commercially available. Prof. Ronald Roy, Head of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, says: “I am pleased to see that their efforts have paid off, and the test is undergoing evaluation by global companies as a return-to-work test, by border control authorities for screening passengers, and by clinics in the UK, China, Greece and India.”
RAE President’s Special Award for Pandemic Service
This week, Prof. Cui and his team were presented with one of the new President’s Special Awards for Pandemic Service by the Royal Academy of Engineering, recognising their exceptional engineering achievement in tackling Covid-19. Specially commissioned silver medals will be presented to all 19 winners later this year.
Prof. Cui says: “I am extremely proud of our team, who have demonstrated R&D competence, engineering innovation, great dedication and social responsibility. We are grateful to the University of Oxford, OSCAR and Oxford University Innovation for their support, with which we were able to develop a unique product within six months and contribute to the fight again Covid-19.”
As part our our Hertford Responds series, Prof. Cui spoke about the development of the test which can be seen on YouTube.