Columbus, Ohio (May 2, 2020)—Columbus region companies and research institutions are ground zero for development of the equipment, medicine and information sharing the world needs to combat COVID-19.
On Jan. 19, a 35-year-old man in the state of Washington visited an urgent care with a cough and fever. He had just returned to the United States from visiting family in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Nearly 2,500 miles away, scientists inside Columbus’ premier research institution realized they had a problem. Though the virus had yet to spread across the U.S. and become the singular focus of the 24-hour news cycle, the people at Battelle, which plays a key role in the global scientific community, were keenly aware of the outbreak happening in China. A decision was made quickly. Battelle would use its expertise in infectious disease to ramp up development of highly complex tests called assays to support the creation of a vaccine and therapies to treat COVID-19. The research giant’s work, however, didn’t stop there.
Across the street from its King Avenue headquarters sits one of the country’s largest universities and its renowned medical system. For years, leaders inside Battelle and Ohio State University have come together to advance health care. With a vaccine more than a year out and a shortage of COVID-19 testing, they decided to jointly develop a laboratory that could offer test results in as little as five hours.
Gabe Meister, research leader at Battelle’s biocontainment facilities, says the institute can take risks when there’s an urgent need. Without weeks of hand-wringing about costs, in a matter of days the two organizations performed analytical validation and set up a lab.
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