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Local lab supplier responds to COVID-19 after learning from Ebola outbreaks
Author: Adam Scheid, PhD
While localized outbreaks – like the 2014-2016 outbreak of Ebola virus – are not uncommon, pandemics are rare. Operating on a global scale, Kansas City-based Labconco has experience responding to viral outbreaks, and is harnessing that experience in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Labconco understands that staying safe and avoiding novel coronavirus infections is particularly important for those at the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic, including clinical and research lab staff. For over -95 years, Labconco has played a role in keeping lab personnel safe from potentially harmful biological and chemical agents, a role that has intensified since the pandemic’s onset. “In situations where there’s an outbreak, where there’s a dramatic uptick in need, we adjust resources so that we can help meet that need. Our motto is ‘We keep researchers safe,’ remarked Vice President of Marketing Christine Stannard, while discussing how COVID-19 has influenced Labconco’s mission.
As a global company, Labconco responded when Ebola virus infections began spreading in West Africa in 2014 and were also on the forefront of the SARS and H1N1 outbreaks, shipping products to companies and testing agencies internationally including the Ministry of Health in Mexico. As part of their response, they partnered with another local bioscience organization to provide lab safety equipment for mobile labs that were sent abroad during the outbreak. This prior experience proved to be very valuable during the emergence and spread of COVID-19.
Given its global connections, Labconco received insights on the impacts of COVID-19 relatively early. When asked about the early days of the virus, Stannard stated, “We started seeing some influence on our sales related to COVID-19 in China, so we knew it was a serious matter.” This prompted Labconco to begin preparing to respond to a global spread of the virus. Their response has been focused on two areas; expediting production and shipping of products critical to COVID-19 testing and vaccine development and educating customers about proper COVID-19 lab safety measures.
The expediting of production and shipping of products needed for testing and vaccine development has been a dynamic process. When asked about the early days of Labconco’s response, Stannard stated, “Some of our products were -essential for COVID-19 testing, so we needed to keep those production lines open. Because many academic labs were closing, we also had short falls in sales of other products. In response, we reallocated resources to production of products that were in high demand.”
While the production facility manages demand for products, the company is also working to educate customers about novel coronavirus lab safety measures through its blog and social media. Labconco has also begun highlighting on their website which of its products are relevant to COVID-19 testing and vaccine development. By doing this, they’re able to make product ordering more efficient for customers.
Labonco’s contributions towards supplying resources needed to address the pandemic, as well as their role in creating safe laboratory environments, reveal the importance of local bioscience companies in fighting the disease. Learn more about Labconco’s products and COVID-19 response on their website: https://www.labconco.com/.
About the author: Adam Scheid is a communications volunteer with BioKansas and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cancer Biology at The University of Kansas Medical Center. In addition to pursuing an academic teaching career, Dr. Scheid is interested in science communication and advocacy.
About Labconco: Celebrating its 95th year, Labconco designs and builds high-quality laboratory equipment. Continuous product innovation keeps researchers safe and meets their exacting and ever-evolving needs for efficiency and performance in chemical and biological ventilation, particulate enclosures, sample preparation, forensics, washers and water purification. Labconco’s employees are dedicated to the safety of people and the scientific process, and to the prospect of a world made safer through science.For more information, visit labconco.com.