Editor’s Note: Unlike many other job roles, field service workers can’t keep the world running during a crisis like COVID-19 while working from home. Over the next few weeks, our #CombatCorona series will be highlighting the incredible work that companies whose workers and equipment are on the frontlines of this fight are doing during this challenging time.
The services that are often invisible as people go about their daily lives are now taking center stage. Whether it is access to food, medical care, electricity and internet, or deliveries, every day people are beginning to recognize just how vital the work is that service companies and their frontline employees do.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, field service organizations around the globe are working harder than ever to keep the world running, and this is especially true for those in the biotechnology and medical device fields.
At ServiceMax we are incredibly proud of the work our customers and others like them are doing. They have been working tirelessly to accelerate R&D, ramp operations, and scale production to meet the demand for testing, vaccines, and medical equipment. These companies are doing truly remarkable things to help us fight COVID-19, and we would be remiss to not recognize and celebrate the work they are doing.
Biotech Companies Stepping Up to Create Test Kits
The importance of widespread testing for COVID-19 has been stressed from the beginning of this crisis. These companies have been at the forefront of developing effective testing kits.
Roche, founded in 1896, is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche has developed a large variety of medicines and diagnostics, including life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials, and cancer medicines.
Today, they are working nonstop to supply countries with their cobas® SARS-CoV-2 Tests, the first available commercial test kit for novel coronavirus. On March 13, 2020, Roche began shipping its first allotment of tests across the U.S. to enable automated, high-volume patient testing.
These testing kits can process between 394-1,056 results in an 8-hour shift depending on the model, with test results being delivered in 3.5 hours. As reported in FiercePharma, at maximum production, Roche can currently supply millions of tests per month and is “working around the clock” to boost that number further.
In addition to ramping up the production of tests, Roche is accelerating its manufacturing capacity of Actemra, the rheumatoid arthritis drug being tested as a potential treatment for patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
Abbott is a global healthcare leader that specializes in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines. This past week Abbott received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA for their ID NOW™ COVID-19 test. This is currently the fastest available molecular point-of-care test, delivering positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.
These tests will run on Abbott’s point of care ID NOW platform, a portable instrument that CEO Robert Ford says will allow healthcare providers to perform “molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.” Beginning next week, the company will be ready to deliver 50,000 ID NOW COVID-19 tests per day to the U.S. healthcare system.
In addition to the ID NOW test, Abbott previously secured EUA for its RealTime SARS-CoV-2 test. Between these two COVID-19 tests, Abbott plans to deliver approximately five million tests per month to keep up with the diagnosis requirements.
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher hails itself as a world leader in serving science, in which they help customers accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics, deliver medicines to market, and increase laboratory productivity.
On March 13, 2020, Thermo Fisher secured Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for its diagnostic test that can be used by CLIA high-complexity laboratories in the U.S. This test uses Applied Biosystems TaqPath Assay technology and is designed to provide patient results within four hours of a sample being received by a lab.
As of March 16, Thermo Fisher had 1.5 million tests available to ship to 200 U.S. laboratories. CEO Marc Casper said he expects to quickly ramp up to reach 2 million tests per week, reaching up to 5 million tests per week during April.
Headquartered in Massachusetts, PerkinElmer develops solutions for diagnostics, life sciences, food, and applied markets.
On March 24, 2020, PerkinElmer received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for its New Coronavirus RT-PCR test, which can be used immediately by CLIA high-complexity laboratories. In addition, PerkinElmer has a second test that is CE-IVD marked and available in over 30 countries worldwide.
Medical Device Companies Stepping Up Production
As cases of COVID-19 multiply around the world, the sickest patients require potentially lifesaving breathing support from ventilators. Demand for these devices has far outstripped supply. These companies are working to change that.
Medtronic is a global healthcare solutions company that develops medical technologies, services, and solutions. One of these technologies—ventilators—happens to be one of the most important tools hospitals have for keeping COVID-19 patients in the most critical condition alive.
Since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 in China, Medtronic has ramped up production of its high-performance ventilators by more than 40 percent. The company’s employees are working 24/7 across multiple shifts to produce as many high-performance ventilators as possible. This around-the-clock work has allowed Medtronic to up its production from approximately 100 ventilators per week pre-pandemic to more than 225 vents per week. The company has plans to double that again to more than 500 vents per week.
Alongside internal efforts to dramatically increase vent production, Medtronic is working with third parties to explore other non-traditional mechanisms to increase production of ventilators. On March 30, 2020, the company announced it is publicly sharing the design specifications for its PB560 ventilator system to increase global production of ventilator solutions.
In addition, the Medtronic Foundation recently announced $10M in contributions to COVID-19 relief efforts across the globe, which comes after an initial charitable contribution made by Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation of $1.2M in February.
GE Healthcare is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medical technology and equipment. With the unprecedented demand for medical equipment, GE Healthcare is adding production lines, hiring workers, and expanding output to help arm hospitals and medical professionals with the equipment they need.
GE Healthcare has increased its manufacturing capacity and output of computed tomography scanners (CTs), ultrasound devices, mobile X-ray systems, patient monitors, and most notably, ventilators. Much like Medtronic, GE Healthcare has increased the number of employees and shifts to help factories assemble equipment around the clock. As a result, GE Healthcare has doubled its capacity of ventilator production and has plans to double it again by midyear.
In addition, GE Healthcare and Ford Motor Company have announced plans to work together to scale up the production of ventilators. Through this partnership, Ford will provide technical and production expertise to manufacture a simplified design of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator.
Philips is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring, and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Of the many products they produce—patient vital signs monitors, portable ventilators, and medical consumables—have become the most critical in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
To ramp up production, Phillips is hiring additional manufacturing employees, adding manufacturing lines, and increasing the number of shifts to 24/7 shifts. Philips plans to double production within the next eight weeks and achieve a four-fold increase by the third quarter of 2020. Phillips is also looking to re-purpose adjacent product ranges and work with third-party contract manufacturers to address the increased demand.
In January, the Philips Foundation donated a range of diagnostic imaging, patient monitoring, and respiratory therapy equipment and supplies to the Thunder God Mountain Hospital in Wuhan, China. The Foundation is currently working closely with Philips’ teams in Kenya, South Sudan, and Italy to support their national healthcare systems.
3D Systems is a leading global additive manufacturing solutions company specializing in rapid prototyping and manufacturing, additive fabrication, 3D printing, CAD/CAM software, medical device manufacturing, and more.
As the rapid spread of COVID-19 puts an unprecedented strain on healthcare providers, 3D Systems is working to support medical device manufacturers with 3D printed components to help ease supply chain issues, as well as support hospitals with engineering and printing help for personal protective items, ventilator venturi valves, and more.
Currently, 3D Systems is working to provide downloadable files for Face Shield Frames, swabs, surgical masks and more that can be printed from any Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Printer.
As the current pandemic unfolds, we are glad to have organizations like these leading the way to support healthcare systems around the world.