Bayer boosts Germany’s coronavirus testing capacity

Article by Amanda Jasi

LIFE science company Bayer has boosted Germany’s coronavirus analysis capacity by several thousand tests per day. The company is providing more than 40 pieces of equipment from its research operations, which are used for the isolation and amplification of viral RNA, and is making its personnel available to help.

The company is making the equipment available at sites across the country. Jörg Möller, Head of Research and Development in Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division, said that conducting more tests will enable fewer infections to go undetected. “This enables infection chains to be reconstructed, which in turn helps to slow the outbreak.”

In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, Bayer is providing equipment to certified external testing laboratories. It is supplying three clinical diagnostic laboratories with apparatus from sites in Leverkusen, Monheim, Wuppertal, and Cologne. According to Bayer, the daily testing capacity of the clinical facilities could be doubled by integrating and complementing infrastructure.

At its site in Berlin, the company is establishing a two-storey testing laboratory. As of 30 March, 140 employees had volunteered to staff it, and Bayer is granting them leave of absence from the regular duties to enable them to do so. Equipment needed for testing is coming from all areas of Bayer’s research and development. In future, up to 1,000 additional coronavirus tests could be carried out at the Berlin site. Highly trained personnel will take special precautions to protect employees when taking and preparing samples. Additionally, the company is working closely with the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin to ensure that all scientific requirements are met.

Bayer has made other efforts to assist Germany in tackling the coronavirus crisis. As of 8 April, the company had supplied four ventilators to the Berlin-Brandenburg area, and ten to hospitals in Wuppertal.

Additionally, the company had helped to address the shortage in cities such as Unna Dormagen and Wuppertal by producing disinfectants, and it has donated urgently-needed masks to Leverkusen.

Bayer is additionally allowing employees in its Pharmaceuticals Division with a medical background to volunteer their expertise in combating the pandemic. At the moment, there is an urgent need for specialist personnel, and numerous physicians and medical technologists work at Bayer. The company is allowing qualified staff up to four weeks of paid leave, to support local health systems.

Furthermore, Bayer says it is “supporting governments, health authorities and communities around the world with urgently-needed medicines, supplies and financial support”.

Karl-Josef Laumann, Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs for North-Rhine Westphalia, said: “Bayer is currently making an extraordinary effort in the fight against the corona pandemic. All I can do right now is to say thank you – to the company and to its employees.”

“The company is setting an example in terms of entrepreneurial responsibility and solidarity in these times, and thus represents the values that have made North Rhine-Westphalia what it is today.”

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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