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US Biocontainment Manufacturer Delivers Mobile Unit for Work on Coronavirus Vaccine

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. and LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — This week, Germfree delivered a 53-foot containment cleanroom trailer to a major US pharmaceutical company where they will work on a COVID-19 vaccine. This is the first, of what is expected to be, many mobile laboratory spaces that will be delivered to scientists and organizations working on virus and antibody testing, vaccine development, research, and deployment solutions. Germfree was quickly able to meet the need for a biocontainment unit specifically designed for COVID-19 vaccine development because the company has decades of experience providing rapidly deployable biocontainment laboratory space. Since the 1990s, the Germfree has pioneered the use of mobile containment cleanrooms for surge capacity, hospital renovations, and emergency preparedness. In recent years, the company has deployed over 60 mobile solutions like the ones needed to meet the COVID-19 crisis to public and private healthcare systems across the US, including to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Massachusetts General Hospital, Stanford Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, UW Medicine, Yale New Haven Health, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This experience positions Germfree to provide what is needed today as well as solutions that can be easily tailored in the future to meet needs that have yet to be identified.

“While not endorsing any particular company or product, rapidly deployable, complete laboratories will greatly enhance the US response to testing for COVID-19.” said Paul Jensen, Ph.D., Lead for Infection Control and Biosafety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), upon commenting on flexible solutions and laboratory safety.

Just as scientists and healthcare professionals have pivoted to focus efforts on reducing the lethality of COVID-19, Germfree employees and the company’s supply chains have coordinated to be ready to provide researchers and healthcare systems with what they need to fight this virus. Germfree’s well-trained workforce is incredibly versatile and has years of experience providing scientists and the healthcare industry with precisely what they need when they need it. With an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce designation from the Department of Homeland Security and procedures in place to protect the health of employees, Germfree remains ready to produce.

Over the years, Germfree has developed strong relationships with vendors, assuring a continuous supply chain for production. Some, such as Kentucky Trailer, a key provider of specialty mobile platforms, are prioritizing Germfree so that the company can quickly meet the needs in the field:

“We clearly understand the importance of Germfree’s mobile labs in the national response to COVID-19. Early on, we worked together to put a plan in place to prioritize critical production demands and maintain supply chain resiliency during these unprecedented circumstances,” said Tom Harper, a VP at Kentucky Trailer.

“As an essential critical infrastructure business, Kentucky Trailer and our dedicated associates are honored to assist Germfree in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Gary A. Smith, Sr., President and CEO of Kentucky Trailer. “What we make matters, underscored by the importance in the combined effort of two great companies partnering to address this historic, must-win challenge.”

Other manufacturers have stepped up to formalize plans to provide Germfree with components:

“We put extra mechanisms in place to avert disruptions and secure the supply chain for Germfree during the pandemic,” said Tim Confer, President, Northern Air Systems, a provider of specialty cooling units for the mobile laboratories.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has designated Germfree and its employees as ‘Essential Mission Infrastructure Support’. Together, with its collaborating vendors, Germfree will continue to employ Americans to provide scientists and healthcare systems with the critical biocontainment capacity they need to save lives and win the fight against this virus. Germfree and its partners are essential to the mission of national health security.

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High Containment Laboratory used for COVID-19 research. Shows interior of offsite-constructed facility built by Germfree Labs in its US factory and installed in Singapore. Duke-NUS researchers were among the first to culture the SARS-CoV-2 and begin study on COVID-19.

Ormond Beach, FL, US – April 1st, 2020 – By mid-March, the emerging pandemic sounded alarms at the highest levels and Germfree was being asked to provide biological containment laboratories – fast. Calls came in from public health labs and researchers across the globe who work to contain local outbreaks and prevent regional epidemics. Now facing a pandemic, priorities shifted, and efforts intensified as did the need for bio-containment space. The global response to COVID-19 would reveal critical deficiencies in global laboratory capacity that now require fast, flexible solutions.

“COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges to our global laboratory infrastructure,” said Dr. Steven Jones, Associate Provost for Health Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan and co-discoverer of a vaccine for Ebola. Jones has confronted these concerns with previous coronavirus outbreaks. “Our laboratory capabilities must be agile and responsive to potential biological threats in a wide range of scenarios. In 2014, I worked with Germfree to quickly deploy one of their laboratories to the Middle East to deal with MERS, which was very similar to the current pandemic virus.”

High Containment Laboratory used for COVID-19 research. Shows exterior of offsite-constructed facility in Germfree’s US factory prior to shipment and installation in Singapore. Duke-NUS researchers were among the first to culture the SARS-CoV-2 and begin study on COVID-19.

Germfree-built facilities are in operation across the world, from resource-challenged regions to modern cities, including a high containment lab in Singapore at the forefront of COVID-19 research: “Duke-NUS was one of the first few laboratories in the world to culture the SARS-CoV-2 and since then we have been working on various aspects of the outbreak,” said Dr. Viji Vijayan, Associate Dean – Research Operations, Safety and Central Procurement at Duke-NUS.

“Building the labs that are crucial to Global Health Security – this is what we do. It is our responsibility to apply all our resources to assist with the pandemic at this time. Germfree is quickly adding factory capacity to build this essential infrastructure as well as offering expertise to industry partners who are trying to fulfill the unmet need,” said Kevin Kyle, President of Germfree. “While our mission is intact, the pandemic created a seismic shift of the landscape in which we all now operate. We quickly pivoted to focus our resources on those serving in the trenches of this terrible pandemic.”

BSL-3 Biological Containment Laboratory; Keith Landy, CEO of Germfree, Tom Frieden, Former CDC Director. The BSL-3 (Biosafety Level 3) laboratory was manufactured by Germfree Labs in their US factory and then shipped and installed in Zaria, Nigeria. This created a new method to augment lab infrastructure and support global public health security anywhere in the world. These labs serve as outposts for disease surveillance with the goal of containing emerging threats.

In the 1990’s, Germfree pioneered the manufacture of mobile and modular, high containment laboratories. Germfree has since further refined designs and developed the capability to rapidly deploy facilities to any region of the world, creating a new model for disease surveillance in remote areas. “Everything that Germfree has done over the last 20 years has prepared us to contribute solutions to this type of situation,” said Keith Landy, CEO of Germfree. “I first started working with the US Army to develop equipment and mobile facilities that could address biological threats and those have evolved into all of the platforms we now use to deliver offsite-built containment labs. Germfree has over a hundred laboratory installations and has deployed the most advanced Biosafety Level 3+ labs on the planet,” continued Landy. “These installations are designed to operate in harsh conditions and remain sustainable in remote regions of the world. I think this deep-rooted experience and expertise combined with our history of global deployments has prepared Germfree to solve some of the very complex challenges that we must confront during this pandemic and for future preparedness.”

“It is vital that we have sufficient global lab capacity for the outbreaks we’ve seen, but more importantly, for the ones we must predict,” added Dr. Steven Jones.

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