Johnson & Johnson, Baxter, and Stryker are Funding Relief Efforts, Safeguarding Supply, and Developing COVID-19 Vaccines and Equipment

Worldwide efforts to understand and overcome the 2019 novel coronavirus or COVID-19 involve a broad spectrum of activities and players: from front line medical personnel and relief workers in the field, through treatment and palliative care at hospitals and clinics, to testing, research, data management, and communications at various facilities across the globe.

Commercial organisations in the health care sector are playing a part in all of this. In this article, we’ll be looking at the contributions of three of them: Johnson & Johnson, Baxter International Inc., and Stryker Corp.

Johnson & Johnson: Ramping Up Support for Front Line Workers, Developing a Possible COVID-19 Vaccine, Enhancing Medical Supply, and Disseminating Information

With over a century of involvement in fighting pandemics, Johnson & Johnson are mobilising over 130,000 employees to help in meeting the critical needs of families, communities, and health care providers around the world.

In January 2020, the company made a financial commitment of $250 million over ten years through the Johnson & Johnson Centre for Health Worker Innovation, an initiative dedicated to supporting front line health personnel like doctors, nurses, midwives, and community health volunteers. On March 27th, 2020, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and the Johnson & Johnson Foundation increased that commitment by $50 million, as an immediate response to COVID-19.

As the search for an effective vaccine continues, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies division of Johnson & Johnson has been collaborating with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

Their work has identified a potential vaccine candidate, which should go into clinical trials by September 2020. The first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use in early 2021. Discovery and development efforts are using Janssen’s AdVac® and PER.C6® technology, which was instrumental in creating vaccines for Ebola, Zika, RSV, and HIV.

The technology will also give Johnson & Johnson the ability to rapidly scale up production. In addition, Johnson & Johnson have put in place robust business continuity plans across its global supply chain, to cope with distribution logistics and to cater for unforeseen events. These measures include maintaining critical inventory at major distribution centres remote from high-risk areas, and deeper collaboration with external suppliers.

The company has also set up a COVID-19 Media Hub, to assist journalists and media houses covering the ongoing crisis. The site provides the latest news and updates concerning Johnson & Johnson’s multi-level response to the pandemic, with a library of images, headshots, and logos available to download.

Baxter International Inc.: Funding Relief Work, Providing Virtual Tools for Health Workers, and Increasing Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

At local, national, and global levels, the Baxter International Foundation is providing financial support to multiple groups addressing the needs of patients, health workers, and communities during the COVID-19 crisis. So far, the Foundation has issued grants to Americares, Direct Relief, IsraAID, Partners in Health, Project Hope, and the United Nations Foundation / WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Among other things, these contributions will help in advancing efforts to manage and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, activate tele-medicine opportunities, and mobilise critical supplies for health care workers.

Through the Foundation, Baxter International is also providing 2:1 matching funds for its employees around the world who make personal donations to select non-profit partners supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

As its front line assistance contribution to health care providers, Baxter International is making a range of virtual tools available to nurses and physicians, for training and individualised clinical support.

To increase the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, and gowns, Baxter International is collaborating with its global network of suppliers to ramp up production and distribution. The goal is to extend PPE both to health care workers and companies requiring it, and internally to Baxter’s own manufacturing staff and other personnel.

This last point is particularly relevant, as Baxter International's CFO James Saccaro was tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23rd, 2020, according to a report from Reuters news agency. Like most of Baxter’s office-based employees, Saccaro is now performing his responsibilities from home, after hospital treatment.

Stryker Corp: Enforcing COVID-19 Protocols and Best Practices, Preparing for Contingencies, and Distributing a New Emergency Response Bed

Like Baxter, the Michigan-based Stryker Corp now has a personal stake in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the confirmation on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020, that an employee who visited one of the company’s Portage locations “has reason to be tested” for the novel coronavirus. The site at Portage, Michigan has since been cleaned under protocols issued under guidance from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), and a small group who came in contact with the employee concerned have been requested to seek medical evaluation, and self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Stryker is encouraging its employees to work from home, limiting visitor access at many of its facilities, and restricting employee travel to critical functions.

As part of its contribution to the wider COVID-19 effort, Stryker has announced the development of its Emergency Relief Bed, a limited-release emergency response bed that can be quickly set up to assist health care providers managing the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Emergency Relief Bed has a six-inch-thick foam surface and a 30-degree head of bed angle to accommodate patients in respiratory distress, including patients who have been intubated, or are on ventilators. The low height unit features an integrated IV pole. Stryker is taking steps to make the bed available in select markets around the world.

Contingency Plans

Stryker Corp has created a COVID-19 response page on its website, outlining the effects of the virus on the company’s supply chain and the steps the organisation is taking to mitigate the spread of disease among its employees.

Though the company claims to have experienced minimal disruption to its supply chain, Stryker nonetheless has contingency plans in place, to safeguard the supply and distribution of products and raw materials. Measures include seeking alternative suppliers, expediting shipments, and reallocating raw materials and / or finished goods from other parts of Stryker’s global network. All non-critical customer interactions are being handled virtually, or by phone.

Stryker Corp has also created a dedicated COVID-19 resource centre, which is updated with information based on feedback from customers and suppliers.

Organisational responses to COVID-19 will no doubt be a hot topic at LogiMed EU 2020, which is scheduled to take place from 06 - 07 October, 2020, at the Hilton Antwerp Old Town -- coronavirus permitting. In any event, you can download the agenda today, for more information and insights

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