The response from our members and the life sciences industry at-large to the COVID-19 pandemic has been amazing and is a testament to why Massachusetts truly is the State of Possible. We know that navigating this new reality is no easy feat, so we’ve compiled a set of helpful resources for our members: best practices for life sciences essential workers returning to the lab, details about applying for relief under the CARES Act, guidance from the FDA, information about donating supplies, ways to give back to the community, a list of current grant opportunities, and more. Keep up the amazing work you are all doing and we will get through this.Bob Coughlin, President & CEO, MassBio
Best Practices for Life Sciences Essential Workers Returning to the Lab
As part of Massachusetts’ Essential Services Order issued on March 31, 2020, the Baker Administration deemed the life sciences including R&D, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, and supply chain essential and allowed its employees to continue to work on-site as necessary, while still encouraging all employees who could work remotely to do so.
As essential parts of our industry continue to work on-site at scaled down levels and consider how to safely return more employees over time, MassBio has consolidated employer best practices to keep those employees who must work on-site as safe as possible. These were developed with a primary focus on the safety and wellbeing of our industry’s employees, their families, and our community. We continue to advocate for all employees who can perform their duties remotely to do so. Check out the best practices here.
Critical Savings for PPE, Office Supplies, and Services During COVID-19
All of our members are trying to find new efficiencies to do more with less and MassBio is here to help. Through the MassBio Edge, our members are able to purchase critical PPE, office supplies, and environmental and lab services and supplies at a discounted rate. See how you can reap the savings from our Preferred Partners, including Thermo Fisher Scientific, Veolia Environmental Services, Middlesex Gases, W.B. Mason, and IPP, among others, to aid in the transition back to the office and lab. Learn more here.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Signed into law on March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is an estimated $2 trillion stimulus bill to provide economic relief for individuals, small business, and large businesses. While the bill does not include provisions specific to the life sciences, there are many provisions in the bill that companies in the industry can seek relief.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Small businesses that employ 500 or fewer employees, and meet the other criteria included in the final guidance, can apply for up to eight weeks of financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program would provide 100 percent federally guaranteed loans, and if they maintain their payroll through the emergency, the loans would be forgiven.
Of note, the National Venture Capital Association has provided thorough guidance for equity backed companies who are considering applying for PPP as the eligibility and documentation requirements can be different for equity backed companies.
Small businesses and other eligible entities will be able to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. The SBA has answered many frequently asked questions about PPP, here.
Deferral of Employment Tax Deposits and Payments
The CARES Act allows employers to defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s share of social security taxes.
IRS issued guidance stating that employers who have received a PPP loan, but whose loan has not yet been forgiven, may defer deposit and payment of the employer’s share of social security taxes that they otherwise would have to pay beginning on March 27, 2020, through the date the lender issues a decision to forgive the loan, without incurring penalties.
State Requests for Supplies
As the leading life sciences and healthcare organizations in the world, it’s incumbent upon all of us to do everything we can to address the COVID-19 pandemic and aid the first responders and healthcare providers who are putting their health on the line every day to help patients.
To that end, we’re asking every life sciences and healthcare organization to consider how they may be able to help, specifically in donating personal protection equipment (PPE), lab, testing, or diagnostics supplies, to combat COVID-19. Please fill out the state’s COVID-19 donation form here.
Beyond the list of supplies and expertise below and in the survey, MassBio is helping facilitate the following requests:
- Sanitary Autoclave Capacity: The MIT COVID Policy Alliance is developing capacity to 3D print nasal testing swabs but need help to find autoclave capacity. If your organization can provide access to sanitary autoclave capacity, please email email@example.com.
- 2ml Sterile Microcentrifuge Tubes: The state is also in need of a significant number of 2ml sterile microcentrifuge tubes with screw caps, skirted. If you have any of these to donate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Viral Transport Media for COVID-19 Testing Kits: One of the critical reagents currently limiting our state’s overall capacity for COVID-19 testing is the availability of tubes containing viral transport media (VTM). The current need is for approximately 3,500 vials of VTM per week. The recipe for VTM has been posted on the CDC website. If you have the capability and willingness to provide vials of VTM for the state testing lab, please email email@example.com.
List of Supplies & Expertise Needed:
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
- Surgical/procedure masks
- N95/N99 masks (respirators)
- Face masks with integrated shield
- Protective suits/gowns
- Booties / shoe covers
- Hand sanitizer
- Sanitizing wipes
- Ventilators, PEEP
- Hospital gowns
- Endotracheal tubes
- Vital sign monitors
- UVT 3ML with flocked flex minitip
- 1.5ml swab microtiped flocked
- 6in swab Darcon
- Medium 2% FBS STD REFEED ML
- Sample collection supplies (sterile swabs, tubes, media)
- MicroAmp™ Optical 384-Well Reaction Plate with Barcode
- MicroAmp™ Fast Optical 96-Well Reaction Plate 0.1mL
- RNAse Away 6-pack
- RNeasy Mini Kit
- TaqMan™ Fast Advanced Master Mix
- BD Universal Viral Transport for Viruses, Chlamydiae, Mycoplasmas, and Ureaplasmas
- 0.2 mL PCR 8-tube Strip with Indiv. Attached Dome Caps
- QIAamp MinElute Virus Spin Kit
- Viral RNA Isolation Kits
- QIAamp® Viral RNA Mini Kits
- QIAamp® MinElute Virus Spin Kit or RNeasy® Mini Kits (QIAGEN
- EZ1 DSP Virus Kits (QIAGEN)
Diagnostics Supplies and Instruments
- Roche MagNA Pure Compact RNA Isolation Kits
- Roche MagNA Pure Compact Nucleic Acid Isolation Kits
- Roche MagNA Pure 96 DNA and Viral NA Small Volume Kits
- Roche MagNA Pure systems
- Roche 480Z
- ABI 7500DX
- Qiagen EZ1 Advanced XL
- QIAcube/QIAcube Connect
- cobas omni Wash Reagent 6997503190
- cobas omni Lysis Reagent 6997538190
- cobas omni MGP Reagent 6997546190
- cobas omni Specimen Diluent 6997511190
- cobas NHP Negative Control Kit 7002220190
- cobas omni Pipette Tips 5534925001
- cobas omni Processing Plate 5534917001
- cobas omni Amplification Plate 5534941001
- 6800 biohazard bags 7435967001
- Lab Tech
- Registered Nurse
- Physician/Medical Doctor
FDA Guidance in Response to COVID-19
The FDA is regularly providing and updating recommendations, guidance, technical assistance, and other information in an effort to support COVID-19 response.
Of particular interest to the life sciences industry:
- “COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: General Considerations for Pre-IND (Investigational New Drug application) Meeting Requests for COVID-19 Related Drugs and Biological Products,”
- “COVID-19: Developing Drugs and Biological Products for Treatment or Prevention,”
- “FDA Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products during COVID-19 Pandemic”
Community Giving – Immediate Opportunities
- Donate to the Massachusetts COVID019 Relief Fund, the Boston Resiliency Fund, and/or the City of Cambridge Disaster Relief Fund.
- Make a donation directly to the Life Science Cares COVID-19 Response Fund. 100% of donations go directly to those providing help on the front lines.
- Sign up for our Boston Area Hospital Volunteer Database (please fill out this survey).
- Donate a used Chromebook (or help purchase a new one) so Project Hope students can resume their classroom studies online.
- Provide games & activities to guests in isolation at Pine Street Inn.
- Help homeless shelters in Greater Boston supported by Circle of Hope obtain clothing, toiletries and other necessities needed.
- Support displaced, promising college students supported by the Wily Network with food and access to transportation.
- Give financially to these organizations, as well as other partners, including Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and CASPAR.
- Volunteer remotely and encourage your employees and network to do so.
Grant / Funding Opportunities
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHQR)
- Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational and Applied Science Program
- Amazon Web Services
- Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
- Centers for Disease Control
- Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
- Department of Defense (DoD) – Newton Award
- Department of the Navy – SBIR/STTR
- The Donaghue Foundation – Greater Value Portfolio Grant
- Emergent Ventures – Fast Grants
- Engage – Transform Fund 2020
- Google Cloud Research Credits for Google Cloud Platform use
- InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge
- Kaggle – COVID-19 Open Research Dataset Challenge (CORD-19)
- Massachusetts Life Sciences Center – Manufacturing Emergency Response Team Funding
- Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC)
- Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) – Emergency Telecritical Care Network (NETCCN)
- The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB)
- National Science Foundation (NSF) – General
- National Science Foundation (NSF) – Cyber infrastructure
- NIH studies with National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
- Novartis – US COVID-19 Community Response Fund
- Novo Holdings – REPAIR Impact Fund
- NSF-U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) Programs Dealing with the Coronavirus Disease: Call for Proposals
- NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I Proposals Addressing COVID-19
- Omidyar Network COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund
- Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
- Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP)
- Pfizer Global Medical Grants (GMG)
- Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) COVID-19 Research Awards
Massachusetts Life Sciences Companies Working to Address COVID-19
MassBio has compiled a list of all life sciences companies headquartered or that have a presence in Massachusetts that are working diligently to develop diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics related to COVID-19. View the list here.
Take Advantage of MassBio Virtual Benefits
As we say often, our members are constantly evolving, and MassBio is evolving right along with them. While we all get accustomed to working from home, practicing social distancing, and holding our events and meetings virtually, MassBio has been working on several new initiatives to engage our members in their new virtual settings. Learn more about these efforts and take advantage of our virtual benefits today.