The Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA) has been carrying out preventive actions against the New Coronavirus, Covid-19, since before the arrival of the epidemic in Brazil. There are actions ranging from postings on social networks with information to the population to research and the production of large quantities of alcohol gel and masks and parts of respirators for use in the health system. Every day, each of our units, whether extension projects, undergraduate and graduate programs, academic leagues, or junior companies, develop new activities with the aim of helping society to face this pandemic. Please find below brief descriptions of some of the main actions developed by our university. 

  • Providing medical supplies
    • Since March 14, UFCSPA professors, students and laboratory technicians have produced more than 1,300 kg of alcohol gel for donation to the State and Municipal Health Departments, as well as to homeless people, through the Cozinheiros do Bem project. Last week, UFCSPA has started to produce alcohol gel from 1,000 liters of alcoholic beverages confiscated by the IRS. Whiskey, vodka, tequila, gin, sparkling wine and wine acquired in the black market will be distilled by UFRGS and the resulting alcohol will be transformed into alcohol gel by UFCSPA, for donation to state public health institutions. The forecast is that 3,000 kg of alcohol gel will be produced. 
  • Contributing clinical staff
    • UFCSPA’ Physical Therapy program, in partnership with Santa Casa’s Physical Therapy Service, promoted training courses for the physical therapy teams of the hospital complex on the best mechanical ventilation practices for patients with COVID-19.
    • The university organizes a list of volunteers – students, professors and technicians – for the development of coordinated actions with the Municipal and State Health Departments and the Ministry of Health.
    • The Telemedicine University Network (Rede Universitária de Telemedicina – RUTE), in which UFCSPA is represented by one of its professors in the coordinating committee, has created a Special Interest Group (SIG) aiming to discuss actions within the pandemic. Virtual meetings happen three times a week and gather health professionals, hospitals, professors and students to discuss COVID-19 challenges, with interventions from professionals from Brazil (including UFCSPA’s) and other countries. The most recent initiative is to link volunteer university students with Telemedicine, in partnership with other Brazilian public universities, for community guidance, under the supervision of professors. The Telemedicine University Network (Rede Universitária de Telemedicina – RUTE), in which UFCSPA is represented by one of its professors in the coordinating committee, has created a Special Interest Group (SIG) aiming to discuss actions within the pandemic. Virtual meetings happen three times a week and gather health professionals, hospitals, professors and students to discuss COVID-19 challenges, with interventions from professionals from Brazil (including UFCSPA’s) and other countries. The most recent initiative is to link volunteer university students with Telemedicine, in partnership with other Brazilian public universities, for community guidance, under the supervision of professors.
    • The Dean’s Office of People Management is developing an action, in partnership with Santa Casa de Misericórdia of Porto Alegre Hospital Complex, to assist the workers of both institutions. The “Strategic Project for Psychological Assistance in the Emergency Situation in Public Health by Covid-19” aims to promote welcoming actions, social support and psychological assistance for UFCSPA staff and interns and Santa Casa health professionals and residents. The proposal will be carried out along two strategic lines. The first, which is already in the implementation phase, is the workplace wellness clinic for UFCSPA staff and interns. The second stage, which starts this week, will be the mental health clinic for Santa Casa and UFCSPA workers who are working in health care at ISCMPA. They will have psychological and psychiatric care during the COVID-19 emergency situation. 
  • Researching or manufacturing technological solutions
    • The Laboratory of Innovation, Prototyping, Creative and Inclusive Education (Lipecin) has been engaged, since March 16th, in a work of Digital Fabrication for the replacement of parts and components used in hospitals to combat Covid-19. Through the use of 3D printers, face shields and parts of artificial respirators are being manufactured. 
  • Researching laboratory-based medical solutions 
    • UFCSPA and the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Santa Casa de Misericórdia of Porto Alegre Hospital Complex are working together to carry out diagnostic tests for detection of the new coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2 – in patients hospitalized with acute respiratory syndrome, as well as healthcare workers. So far, more than 1,200 tests have been carried out, with more than 99% of the results released in less than 24 hours. In addition to meeting the demand of Santa Casa itself, the laboratory also performs more than 100 tests per day for other municipalities of the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre.
    • Through the Support Program for Institutional Development of the Brazilian Unified Health System (PROADI-SUS), the Moinhos de Vento Hospital, in collaboration with UFCSPA, is working together with the Central Laboratory for Public Health in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (LACEN-RS) on the diagnosis of COVID-19 by RT-PCR of individuals under suspicion of being infected with SARS-CoV2 in the 1st Regional Health Coordination. The activities developed are: assistance to LACEN-RS in the diagnosis of COVID-19 by RT-PCR; phylogenomic analysis of SARS-CoV2 isolates to identify geolocation; variations in SARS-CoV2 viral load according to disease severity and clinical sample.
    • Several research projects are being developed by UFCSPA researchers (some having been awarded funding from governmental agencies) in different areas, such as epidemiology, immunology, molecular biology, pharmaceutical sciences, artificial intelligence, well-being of health professionals, etc.  
  • Providing expert guidance for the government to help with policies and response to the pandemic
    • UFCSPA is one of the institutions that constitute the State Government’s Scientific Committee of the Crisis Council for Confronting the COVID-19 Epidemic.
    • A survey coordinated by Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPel) and carried out in partnership with UFCSPA and the State Government is analyzing the immunity of people who have already taken the molecular test for Covid-19. To participate voluntarily, it is necessary to have taken the RT-PCR test, which uses samples of nasal or orpharyngeal swabs, regardless of a positive or negative result. The collection is performed at the participant's home, through a drop of blood taken from the tip of a finger to be used for immunoassays. It is not necessary to collect nasal swabs again. The test result from the immunoassay comes out instantly. Participant data is kept confidential. The research is part of the project "Evolution of the prevalence of infection by Covid-19 in Rio Grande do Sul: Population-based study".
    • UFCSPA will test the population of Esteio, a neighboring town, for Covid-19. Acting together with the universities UFRGS, Feevale and Unisinos, and at the request of Esteio city hall, the institution will carry out epidemiological, clinical and molecular studies that aim to control the spread of the virus in the town. Altogether, 41 researchers participate in the study. Two thousand rapid tests will be carried out, in sessions of 500 tests every 15 days. Residents who test positive for the new coronavirus will be subjected to a new analysis, this time, through PCR. The study will also work on the genetic sequencing of the virus and will submit the results for comparisons with international databases, collaborating with research to trace the origin of the virus. The collection of the tests should start in May, after the study has been released by the National Research Ethics Commission (Conep).  
  • Providing support to local residents and organizations 
    • UFCSPA is providing a WhatsApp number for information and questions from the population about the new Coronavirus. Through the number, people get in touch and receive periodic information about Covid-19, and they can also send their questions, in text or audio. The questions are answered by the members of the Center, composed of a multidisciplinary team of professionals and students of health programs.
    • UFCSPA's Food Technology program provides a template and step-by-step instructions for the population to produce fabric masks. The material was prepared by professors and students of the program, who are also producing fabric masks for donation.
    • A campaign by the Dean’s Office of Extension, Culture and Student Affairs aims to attract donations of non-perishable food, clothing and hygiene products. To ensure safety and compliance with physical distance guidelines, items will be picked up at donors' homes on pre-defined days.
    • UFCSPA’s Cultural Center created Cultural Connection, a space for virtual cultural events, connected in three specific actions: “By my window, the world”, Artist’s Word and Virtual Choir. The objective is to help the population to go through this moment more lightly. The meeting places are the social networks of the Cultural Center (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and UFCSPA’s website. 
    • In addition, we are constantly providing information to the population through our website and social media. Even before the pandemic hit Brazil, UFCSPA held an event aimed at health professionals with information about Covid-19, what it was and how it should be fought. On May 7th, a Virtual March for Science was organized by the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) together with entities linked to Science, Technology and Innovation across the country (including UFCSPA), aiming to draw attention to the importance of science in facing Covid-19 and its health, social and economic consequences.
    • All the information on UFCSPA’s actions regarding the pandemic are available on www.ufcspa.edu.br/coronavirus