2020 was a year like no other. We look back at some of the projects we were involved with during those memorable 12 months and revisit some of the top stories from the year.
Manufacturing COVID-19 Test Kits
Back in March 2020 when COVID-19 began to take a firm grip on the county, we collaborated with Edinburgh Genetics to manufacture antibody test kits designed as a simple to use, lateral flow test. This style antibody tests, provides near-immediate results about whether a person has ever had COVID-19, which is vital for key health workers in ensuring a safe return or continuation of their work.
Europlaz was selected to manufacture these test kits for several key reasons, including our fast response to the initial approach, our expertise in medical device manufacturing, our competitive price and demonstrable track record of engineering highly technical devices. We also had capacity to manufacture the kits within our facilities, having just commissioned two new Class 7 Cleanrooms – the industry standard for manufacturing medical devices.
Supporting Patients in Intensive Care
Everyone will be familiar with the demand that the COVID-19 pandemic placed and is continuing to place on the NHS and UK hospital resources. Much Government discussion and media focus is centred around the shortage of ventilators, which are desperately needed for patients being treated for severe symptoms of COVID-19 in Intensive Care Units (ICU).
Less discussion, however, centred around the demand for kidney dialysis machines, which are equally vital in successfully treating COVID-19 patients in ICUs. Unfortunately, much like the ventilators, there was a country-wide shortage of dialysis machines and the COVID-19 outbreak led to a significant increase in NHS demand for them. Figures from the BBC during 2020 suggested that over 2,000 patients admitted to intensive care for COVID-19 suffered from kidney failure – highlighting the critical importance of these machines during the pandemic.
In response to this shortage, we worked with Quanta Dialysis Technologies, to manufacture and supply consumables for the SC+ haemodialysis machine being used by the NHS. In fact, it is a partnership that has been in place for about 9 years, when work on this innovative product first started. Initially, our role was to support the company through the design and development phases to bring new dialysis technology to launch. At the time, the dialysis machines were primarily designed for use both at home and the clinic.
However, the outbreak of COVID-19 shifted the plans as the launch of the new machine coincided with the onset of the pandemic when dialysis machines were urgently needed by the NHS to treat hospitalised patients. This meant we were required to immediately increase our consumable production rates, in a bid to meet demand and ensure that the NHS had a sufficient stock of machine consumables for its ICUs.
To accommodate the increased demand from the NHS, we rapidly sped up our production operation. This included introducing a dedicated night shift to ensure that enough consumables were manufactured in a timely manner and to meet the supply demand of the NHS.
Patent Granted for our Flow Sensor
In June 2020, we received some welcome news that a Patent had been granted for our Flow Sensor with side port. Used for medical artificial neonatal ventilation, the Flow Sensor combined component includes a flow sensor for the measurement of the volume of gas flow and a sampling port for extraction of sampling gas for routing to a concentration measuring device.
The integrated arrangement of the Flow Sensor assures volume flow measurement accuracy in a constant temperature anemometer sensor whilst reducing dead space and minimising turbulence and space prior to the sampling gas diversion point. The distance between the orifice and the anemometer sensor is important and is preferably within the range of 3 – 10 mm.
New COVID-19 Test Kit Partnership Announced
Continuing our work to support the ongoing fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, in August we announced a new partnership with not-for-profit organisation Testing for All to manufacture their Coronavirus Test Kit.
Using our expertise and high-quality manufacturing, Europlaz was give the contract to assemble the test kits for Testing for All in our Class 7 Cleanroom. As with all our clients, our in-depth understanding of quality and regulatory control of medical device manufacturing was an important factor in Testing for All’s decision to work with us, as well as our impressive QMS system and our Cleanroom environment.
We were able to move quickly for Testing for All, progressing rapidly from an initial enquiry from the organisation to a signed contract – in the space of just five days. This swift process demonstrated how confident the client was in our expertise and our high-class facilities. It was important to Testing for All and their aims to work with a company that could provide a quick turnaround – something we are very used to doing at Europlaz.
Thanks to our work on the initial testing kits with Edinburgh Genetics and Testing for All, we were also selected by both companies to work with them on their PCR Antigen tests. Production of these began in December 2020 and continue as we enter 2021.
It is extremely positive news about the development and roll out of the Pfizer-BioNTech and The University of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines but as the country faces another national lockdown as COVID 19 cases soar once again, we will continue to work with our partners, to meet demand and help the fight against this pandemic where we can.
Developing and Manufacturing Drug Delivery Products
Throughout the year we were approached by several different companies regarding some innovative new products they are working on. These included a catheter which contains novel features which help improve the quality of life of users. As the year drew to its end, we produced the final prototype devices and during the early months of 2021 we will move through product validation with the plan being to introduce the product into production in the Spring.
In December 2020 we secured the contract to help develop and manufacture two drug delivery products for a leading international pharmaceutical company first product is a moulded component which is used to allow the administration of trial drugs to patients in non-clinical settings. The second, which is a larger version of the first includes multiple components which will be assembled in the Cleanrooms at Europlaz.
What will 2021 Bring?
Working proactively and efficiently to support our clients have always been priorities for us at Europlaz. We look forward to developing these products further with our clients and working with new clients throughout the new year and beyond. If you have a project you would like to discuss with us please contact us today.