Bioprocess Automation, Remote Monitoring, and Real-Time Data Capture Underpin Operation Warp Speed’s Push for a COVID-19 Vaccine

Life science companies spanning the globe are striving to quickly develop and commercialize COVID-19 therapeutics and grab the brass ring of a viable, effective, and safe SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. 

In the United States, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations (CDMOs), from coast-to-coast are racing to complete clinical trials and forge the right partnerships that will enable them to commercialize and mass produce a vaccine once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Ample funding for vaccine and other COVID-19 related projects and hi-tech, automated development, manufacturing and distribution processes and tools are mission critical to getting a safe, efficacious and mass-producible vaccine into the hands of the populus. 

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) has played a pivotal role in supplying copious funding to companies pursuing potential COVID-19 vaccines. OWS, which was allocated $10B by Congress, has already invested billions in potential vaccine candidates since the program was launched, including, but not limited to, $1.2B to AstraZeneca and more recently, $1.6B to Maryland’s Novavax for their respective vaccine candidates.  

OWS is a government program that is attempting to accelerate the delivery of 300M doses of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by January, 2021. In addition, OWS is also supporting the rapid development of other COVID-19 countermeasures, including the development, manufacturing and distribution of diagnostics and therapeutics. OWS is a partnership among components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Department of Defense (DoD). 

While the necessary funding for vaccine development, clinical trials, advanced biomanufacturing and mass distribution is critical, the remarkable progress that’s already been made by several companies would not be possible without the flexibility afforded by bioprocessing automation, remote l capabilities and real-time monitoring of cell culture and fermentation processes.

In the deeply urgent environment of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics development, which requires both speed and acute meticulousness, remote bioreactor control and automation and real-time, accurate data capture — all while adhering to pandemic safety protocols in the lab — are invaluable tools for the scientists on the front lines of the race for a vaccine.

At Lab Owl, we deliver the remote-access, automated bioreactor control, and information systems that labs need to accelerate drug and vaccine development, reduce human error, and make faster, more accurate go-no-go decisions earlier in the development process. Across a wide range of measurables, Lab Owl helps research scientists become more efficient; it enables a lab to perform more reliable automated cell culture and fermentation runs without having to reinvent every recipe; the system enhances data collection and reporting and promotes information sharing across your lab, making collaboration among scientists easier than ever. 

Lab process efficiency and strong collaboration among lab teams is more important than ever before, as companies push to find a vaccine before the end of 2020. The ability to automate, monitor and control cell culture and fermentation runs from outside the lab has never been more important for the safety and health of lab teams and for the continuation of the essential work being done to fight COVID-19 and to develop life saving medicines.

The flexibility and power of Lab Owl also extends into manufacturing operations, allowing CDMOs and other biotech manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing demands and requirements.  Equipped with full 21 CFR Part 11 compliance, Lab Owl easily moves from the Process Development Lab to the Pilot Plant to Full-scale GMP manufacturing.

What Lab Owl really does best is what is needed most right now: Empowering people to work together better. Bioreactor automation and information technology should create the time and space for lab scientists to create, innovate, and look ahead instead of always having to put out a fire or reinvent processes every day. Scientists need to have the automation and remote bioreactor control tools to increase realtime awareness of the development process while also having the freedom and the time to innovate and think ahead. 

The convergence of leading-edge technologies like Lab Owl and other innovations continued government funding support from OWS, the execution of great science and the dedication and persistence of lab scientists will eventually lead the globe to a solution to COVID-19.

In the end, all of our efforts are designed to bring life-saving and life-changing therapies to patients in need and their families that suffer alongside them. 

While the fight against the pandemic is rightfully top-of-mind, the battle against other devastating illnesses continues as well. Lab Owl is proud to be doing its part to support the fight against COVID-19. And we’re also proud that our team and our product have been able to help our life science partners and clients improve their lab and manufacturing performance and efficiencies, which will eventually lead to new therapeutics and future cures for people across the globe.

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