Every day brings news of more confirmed cases of COVID-19, aka the coronavirus. With all the negative headlines popping up in our newsfeeds, it can feel like we’re losing the battle and the war in this pandemic. However, life sciences companies are hard at working trying to increase testing, improve treatment and develop a vaccine against the virus. Many of these companies are MasterControl customers and we’re proud of what they’re accomplishing. While we certainly don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the virus or its effects on the health care system, we would like to point out the good that these companies are doing in the midst of this crisis.
One of the problems that COVID-19 has presented is testing, both in terms of having enough tests and making testing available. Several MasterControl customers have been working in both areas and making significant contributions. LabCorp just announced1 that they now can perform 20,000 tests daily and Quest Diagnostics2 is similarly performing 25,000 tests daily, with an expectation that that will soon be 30,000. Of course, there’s more to testing than just the number of tests that can be run.
Another aspect of improved testing is how quickly a test can give results. This is what Becton Dickenson (BD) has been focusing on. A test they recently submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) would deliver results in as little as two hours3. Depending on the location, it can take a few days or a few weeks to get test results back. Keeping that in mind, getting results in two hours can save lives, especially in areas where tests are becoming backlogged because there are so many of them.
Finding an effective treatment against a virus like COVID-19 is a race against the clock. But
MasterControl customer New York Blood Center is taking the first steps in the process4. They’ve collected blood plasma donations from those who’ve recovered from COVID-19 and, in an FDA-approved treatment, will transfuse that plasma into those affected by the virus. The idea being that the antibodies from the person who recovered will help the person currently experiencing the illness to recover. Patients still have to be approved by the FDA on a case-by-case basis, but the company is hopeful that this treatment can be used nationwide on those with serious or life-threatening infections.
A vaccine is still far off, but Medicago hopes to start human trials in July or August 2020 with the goal of submitting a dossier to authorities by November 2021. The company has already taken the first steps in developing a vaccine by producing a virus-like particle (VLP) of coronavirus. Another MasterControl customer, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)5, is sponsoring a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir in hospitalized adults that have COVID-19.
Making sure that those who need it the most have access to testing and treatment is also a challenge. As with many viruses, seniors are among the most vulnerable. That’s why Quest Diagnostics has set aside specific times for them to come get tested. Seniors and others who are vulnerable will have special access to testing at a Quest Diagnostic facility during the first hour that every center is open. For those who would like a more convenient option, the Mayo Clinic has drive-thru testing6 in Rochester, Minnesota.
The COVID-19 pandemic has universally interrupted lives, affected the economy, and sent thousands to the hospital. However, life sciences companies worldwide are making strides against the virus. Providing respirators, increasing testing, working on vaccines, and other measures are what will eventually stem the tide of the pandemic. We look forward to seeing the part our customers play in combatting this crisis.
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