How these companies are fighting the virus from our back yard
In the most innovative, creative, entrepreneurial state in the Midwest, backing down from a challenge isn’t an option. So for Ohio organizations, a global pandemic is a crucial time to change the game, and many companies are responding not by small changes to what they typically do, but by changing their methods, target demographics and products to best respond to this time of need.
For startups, longtime industry leaders and everything in between, COVID-19 isn’t a time for Ohio companies to slow down. Instead, they’re applying their industry-leading initiative and work ethic to solving the current problem.
And they’ve come up with some amazing things.
From assisting healthcare professionals to developing new ways of testing for and treating the virus, Ohio is at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are a few Ohio companies leading the way in this nationwide fight:
Many companies are doing what they can and helping to support those fighting COVID-19, but the global healthcare innovators at Abbott have taken one of the world’s biggest steps toward an actual solution.
The company announced March 27 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued Emergency Use Authorization for Abbott’s newest invention, the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of COVID-19. The test can deliver positive results in as little as five minutes and can deliver negative results in 13 minutes.
— Abbott (@AbbottNews) March 27, 2020
The ID NOW platform is the size of a small toaster and weighs just 6.6 pounds, adding important portability. It uses molecular technology, which is “valued by clinicians and the scientific community for its high degree of accuracy,” according to Abbott. ID NOW is already the most widely available molecular point-of-care testing platform in the U.S. today, and Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford said the device was a crucial weapon in the fight against the virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” said Ford. “With rapid testing on ID NOW, healthcare providers can perform molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”
Abbott says they will be making the tests available this week to healthcare providers in urgent care settings in the U.S., where the majority of ID NOW instruments are in use today. The company is working with the state and federal government to deploy tests to areas where they can have the greatest impact.
Battelle, one of the most innovative organizations in Ohio is helping fight the virus with both invention and charitable donation.
On March 23, the company announced that it would be donating $250,000 to local food banks to help them combat the rising need.
“At Battelle, we want to make a positive impact in the places where we work and live,” President and CEO Lou Von Thaer said in a release. “Our mission, given to us by our founder, is to advance science and technology so we can direct our philanthropic and charitable giving to help others and improve society.”
But Battelle isn’t stopping at treating the symptoms of the virus, they’re also fighting back.
Days later, the company announced that it had received Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization to support healthcare workers with the Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System.
Here's a new Inside Battelle blog: COVID-19: Deploying a Critical New PPE Decontamination System
— Battelle (@Battelle) March 30, 2020
The system is now operating at Battelle’s West Jefferson facility and is capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 respirator masks per system each day using concentrated, vapor-phase hydrogen peroxide. In a release, Von Thaer thanked the FDA for fast-tracking the technology.
“I want to thank the FDA team for their professionalism and help in authorizing the use of our technology at this critical moment for our nation,” said Von Thaer. “Everybody who has worked on this project shares the same goal of protecting first responders and healthcare workers who are at the front lines of the pandemic.”
But wait, there’s more!
The very next day, Battelle announced yet another exciting development. In conjunction with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the pair jointly developed a new rapid, sensitive diagnostic test for COVID-19. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center will administer the new test under its existing FDA certification permits.
.@Battelle & #OSUWexMed jointly developed a new rapid, sensitive diagnostic test for #COVID19. This will increase & improve test processing in #Ohio, while allowing for faster turnaround time on results, which will help “flatten the curve": https://t.co/m2dpSKeFUR pic.twitter.com/CGeVFl71Am
— The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (@OSUWexMed) March 30, 2020
“Ohio State and Battelle teams have shown incredible leadership and ingenuity, in moving this project forward so rapidly,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “With this collaboration, we will increase testing right here in Ohio to better help health care professionals and public health officials understand, treat, and prevent the spread of the virus.”
Across the world, nations, states and healthcare organizations are working hard to find ventilators, one of the most important pieces of equipment for those fighting COVID-19.
That development has made Bullen, based in Dayton suburb Eaton, one of the country’s most important businesses.
Bullen manufactures equipment for ultrasonic machining, and it turns out that one of the products they’ve been producing is a key part of various life-saving devices, including ventilators. Now, they’re shifting production to emphasize those crucial parts, and have been labeled an essential manufacturer while supplying parts to other businesses considered essential during the pandemic, including U.S. Department of Defense contractors.
“We’re putting an expedited focus on these particular parts to get through,” President Tim Beatty told the Dayton Daily News. “They’re products for which we didn’t have existing production lines, so we’re having to really ramp up that production quickly from start to finish.”
Beatty said in a release that the company is focused on the safety of its workers during their battle. The company has 139 employees, many of whom will be working from home. But to keep the production rolling, some will be split into teams and work on a weekly rotation to ensure their important work continues.
“It’s a scary time for our nation and state, but I’m confident we are going to get through this together,” said Beatty. “All of us can do our part in serving our country, whether it’s continuing essential services or working from home to keep people healthy. We all are a part of this fight.”
Typically, Bryan-based Daavlin can be found producing phototherapeutic products that treat skin disorders by using ultraviolet light. The company uses their technology to treat conditions like psoriasis and eczema in more than 70 countries across the globe.
But now, the company is repurposing its manufacturing process and equipment to protect those fighting coronavirus.
In just over two weeks, the company created a way to sanitize PPE, or personal protective equipment, for healthcare workers using that same UV light technology. Bob Golding, the company’s director of research, told Spectrum News 1 that the company began building and shipping machines less than a week after formulating the plan.
“I have a friend in Milan, where they got hit really hard. So I had been following the virus through him over the last two months, and they ran out of PPE. When I heard it had killed some doctors, I read lots of journal articles and found every PPE-disinfection technology known to man…and we built a machine.”
Golding said those machines will be going to local hospitals soon, and other organizations across America are starting to follow suit.
The startup is doing its part by focusing its printing capacity on the production of face shields for protection against droplet transmission to the face, nose, and eyes. JuggerBot’s face shield consists of a 3D-printed visor, an elastic band and a filament sheet The shield fits a variety of head sizes and can be disinfected.
Vice President Dan Fernback told the Youngstown Business Journal that while the company’s processes weren’t designed for this work, it was an important switch.
“This is a little bit different from what we’re normally doing internally, especially since we’re taking on the assembly aspect,” Fernback says. “At the end of the day, even though we’ve always offered printing services, at our core, we’re machine builders. It’s a minor adjustment to make medical devices, and we’re happy to put on our manufacturing hat.”
No company will be able to beat COVID-19 alone, but with the invention, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of Ohio companies, the state has made itself the center for the fight against the virus as new organizations step up every day to do their part.