Courtesy of Luke Daum, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive VP at Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics

Good News – Featuring Johns Hopkins, Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics, and More…

Across the country, there are positive signs that many parts of the U.S. have flattened the curve and have entered, or are actively entering, a COVID-19 recovery phase. The BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) is trending in a positive direction, too, while there remain areas across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. that have been hit harder and are recovering more slowly.

This is the reality: Progress is being made, but the recovery process from COVID-19 is different wherever you look and unique challenges still exist in every community. Our collective actions of social distancing and working remotely are having a positive impact. That’s why it is critical that each community remain vigilant with social distancing protocols while also continuing to do its part to help fellow community members, businesses and organizations navigate this tough time.

The BHCR continues to come together as a community to bring comfort, supply needed equipment and materials and to deploy its substantial life science capabilities to improve testing and make progress toward an approved COVID-19 vaccine. 

Our COVID-19 Good News Roundup was created to highlight these efforts. Here is our roundup for this week.    

The University of Maryland Awards Do Good Medallion to 2020 Graduates

The University of Maryland’s (UMD) School of Public Policy’s Do Good Institute recently awarded 38 2020 graduates with Do Good Medallions for “…their extraordinary commitment to social impact and innovation and their efforts to transform the University of Maryland into the nation’s first Do Good Campus. These Do Good grads are working to tackle social and environmental issues from climate change to public health, from cybersecurity to access to education, from hunger to human rights,” according to UMD’s website.

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The medallion recipients were selected from thousands of UMD students across nine colleges and schools that were semi-finalists or finalists in the school’s annual Do Good Challenge, served as Do Good Fellows or Ambassadors, or received the TIAA Fellows or Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. 

A comprehensive list of Do Good Medallion recipients can be found here.

Johns Hopkins University Community Comes Together to Source PPE

As news spread of COVID-19 spreading in China, some students, faculty and parents recognized that a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) would likely impact the U.S. when the pandemic arrived. Students, faculty and parents with family in China had heard via news reports and from relatives about how PPE was scarce at Chinese hospitals on the front lines of fighting the virus. 

While each group came to this knowledge on their own, they eventually connected online to form a unified effort to source 10,000 faceshields and N95 masks from China for delivery to the U.S. Over 40 people contributed to the effort to obtain PPE in great numbers and at a fair price. Florida’s Diane Yin, who has a son studying at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), was among the leaders of this effort. 

According to a JHU story on the effort, Yin stated, “No matter if you are Chinese or American, this virus is spreading around the world and we, as humans, have a fundamental motivation to help others,” Yin said.

Yin and the group’s efforts are part of a wider, organized effort by members of the JHU community to source PPE that’s needed in the U.S. In addition to the 10,000 face shields secured by Yin and the group’s other organizers, several other JHU professors have sourced over 76,000 face shields, masks, protective outfits, and shoe covers, according to the JHU story.

Montgomery County, Maryland Continues the Fight Against COVID-19

Scores of businesses across industry sectors are continuing the fight against COVID-19. While it seems the state has flattened the curve and the state has begun its recovery process, urgent needs still exist across Montgomery County (MOCO) at all levels.

The ongoing contributions of the county’s life science communities have been well documented here on BioBuzz. We’ve written extensively about the vaccines being developed by Altimmune and the partnership between Emergent Biosolutions and Novavax, among other ongoing COVID-19 projects. 

Scores of other companies, organizations and individuals are contributing to these efforts as well, including Robotic Research, Xometry, and Ratel 3D, which have been 3D printing face shields and face shield parts. Other groups have pivoted to produce homemade face masks and restaurants have increased curbside and delivery services, including special deliveries for groups in high stress circumstances. 

Businesses and residents continue to do their part and have been well-supported by local, state, and federal government programs designed to get them to the other side of COVID-19. Remarkably, as these businesses and individuals struggle to cope with themselves, they have selflessly reached out to help their neighbors and community during the crisis. 

You can read more about other specific MOCO COVID-19 work being done here.

Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics Works with Coca-Cola to Validate Test Tubes

Challenges surrounding COVID-19 testing have been well documented by the media. These challenges include not only tests that aren’t accurate, but shortages of the materials required to ship and process these tests. 

According to a recent Coca-Cola press release, “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collaborated with Oak Ridge National Lab to identify manufacturers who could address a supply chain gap of COVID-19 test collection tubes to support the increasing testing needs of States.” Coca-Cola was identified as a company that could address this gap and “Southeastern Container, a PET preform and bottle manufacturing co-operative funded and managed by a group of Coca-Cola bottlers, has begun producing test tubes for use in COVID-19 kits.”

To validate these collection tubes, and to confirm that the soda bottle preforms are compatible with COVID-19 testing systems, Oak Ridge National Lab turned to Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics, whose vaccines group is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. We wrote recently about Longhorn’s COVID-19 efforts to rectify sample collection shortages here.

Five COVID-19 testing companies are currently lined up to begin using the tubes created using soda bottle preforms. 

Thanks and cheers to all working to make an impact.

Read more local Good News we’ve found in and round the region 👏

Have more good news to share? Reach out to adam(at)biobuzz(dot)io to be featured.

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