April 24th, 2020
Authors: Krissy Dempsey (Marketing Manager – Saint-Gobain Life Sciences, Medical Components)
Angie Alt (Marketing Coordinator – Saint-Gobain Life Sciences, Medical Components)
The world has been swiftly coming together to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing the COVID-19 infectious disease. Manufacturers are working to provide personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostic tools, treatment options and devices, as well as preventative measures such as hand sanitizers and the possibility of a vaccine in the not so distant future. Saint-Gobain has seen an influx of requests and is working to respond and supply wherever possible. Some examples we’ve seen and how those applications are being put to use in this fight are discussed below.
An important tool in fighting the outbreak of Coronavirus is the ability to do mass testing with results as quickly as possible. Silicone tubing is used for the manufacture of the reagents used in the development of tests as well as on equipment for point-of-care detection devices. Requests for filters used in molecular analysis equipment used to diagnose the presence of the virus in the body has increased. Saint-Gobain also provides specialty closures for caps and closures which are used by OEM diagnostic machines.
Ventilators have been deemed a key method of treatment for patients with severe respiratory symptoms but there is a worldwide shortage. Requests for parts for ventilators include molded silicone tubes, extruded silicone tubing, silicone diaphragms, spiral silicone breathing hoses which deliver oxygen to the patient, and non-DEHP PVC tubing used to connect nebulizers into the ventilator system. There are therapies that involve nitric oxide delivered through ventilation to improve blood flow and oxygenation which utilize filters supplied by Saint-Gobain. In extreme cases when ventilation is not sufficiently improving patient conditions, physicians are resorting to the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or sometimes called heart-lung-bypass in which blood is removed from the body, flows through a machine that adds oxygen back into the blood and then pumps it back into the body. There has been an increase in demand for Tygon® S-97-E tubing that is often used in the peristaltic pumps of these systems.
Those that need the most care and support are being admitted to hospital intensive care units (ICUs). These patients require fluids and medications typically dispensed via intravenously (IV). The more people admitted to the ICU, the more IV therapy components are needed to treat those patients. Within IV therapy, extruded silicone tapes are punched into discs are used within flow diaphragms and check valves. Molded diaphragms as well as silicone tubes are used within IV pumps to administer fluids and medications. On the IV tubing line that goes from the patient to the fluids you will see a needleless access valve which contains a silicone gland. These valves are used to administer medications via a syringe but without the need to use a needle; the medication enters the IV line and is introduced to the body through that existing entry point.
Other medical care technologies are being deployed such as monitoring blood gases and sugars. These indicators can help physicians monitor the patient’s conditions and change their treatment plan as needed. Silicone molded seals are used in both of these applications. ICU shower heads have integrated filters to protect patients with compromised immune systems from the threat of bacteria.
As one’s body fights the respiratory effects of COVID-19, other systems and key organs struggle to survive. There is an increase in kidney failures being reported and thus a higher demand for dialysis equipment and products such as thermoplastic elastomer tubing used in these devices.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
We are hearing a lot about PPE in the news. Requests for silicone tubing/tape/cord are being seen for face shield straps. Within Saint-Gobain we’re seeing our non-Medical sites pivoting and starting to help manufacture face shields, face masks, as well as hand sanitizer products.
Medical device and pharmaceutical companies around the world are working as quickly as possible to develop more effective treatments or a preventative vaccination for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Bioprocess Solutions business within Saint-Gobain Life Sciences produces a broad range fluid management components and assemblies that are used in pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and cell and gene therapy production. Many of these Saint-Gobain products, like C-Flex® tubing and KryoSure® culture bags are intended for single-use, facilitating fluid transfer, filtration and containment throughout the production process. These polymer based solutions play a critical role from development to scale for therapies, vaccines and processing solutions.
The idea would be to test the blood of those that have recovered or appear to be immune for antibodies in their plasma. If present, the person could donate their antibody-containing plasma to treat current patients. Reagent manufacturing, diagnostic machines, blood bags, tubing and other components will all be needed if this treatment proves effective.
We are all thankful for the many businesses ramping up to save lives and are proud to play whatever part we can in the fight against the novel coronavirus.