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Pharma Manufacturing Operations in the Time of COVID-19

There has been a flood of articles recently on how companies have adapted to our new reality in a coronavirus-affected world. As an essential services manufacturer and lab, Neuland has tackled some unique challenges as we’ve navigated through the pandemic. In this post, we’ll share some of the steps we’ve taken, and review some of the common practices pharma businesses around the world are using to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Perhaps the best example of steps manufacturing businesses have taken in the modern era can be found during the flu pandemic of 1918. Many of those actions have resembled those we’ve taken to fight SARS-CoV-2:

“During the 1918-19 H1N1 “Spanish” influenza pandemic, which infected one fifth to one third of the world population, and during which 50 million people died worldwide,1,2 including an estimated 675,000 Americans, the United States has adopted a range of nonpharmaceutical (public health) interventions. These measures, which were similar to those currently adopted, included closure of schools and churches, banning of mass gatherings, mandated mask wearing, case isolation, and disinfection/hygiene measures.3

These measures were not implemented at the same time or for the same duration in different cities, however, nor were they uniformly followed. A recent analysis concluded that in some cities (San Francisco, St Louis, Milwaukee, and Kansas City) where the measures were implemented early, these measures reduced transmission rates by up to 30% to 50%.3 Cities that implemented such measures earlier had greater delays in reaching peak mortality, and had lower peak mortality rates and lower total mortality.”

Also similar to our current situation, manufacturing across industries was largely curtailed. In the case of the 1918 flu, many employees fell ill – necessitating the shutdowns. In 2007, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis reported that the Spanish Flu caused manufacturing to decline by 18% in 1918-19, a result of declines in both supply and demand.

What Are Governments Recommending for COVID-19?
In the U.S., OSHA’s (the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s) COVID-19 guidance shared a series of recommendations for manufacturers. Agencies such as the CDC have issued additional guidance, such as Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.

Common recommended steps include:

  • temperature pre-screening of employees
  • wearing masks
  • social distancing
  • enhanced cleaning and disinfection of work spaces
  • attention to personal hygiene.

It has been reported that “Social distancing and employee safety measures put an additional level of pressure on manufacturers, as 40%-50% of their workforce will be unavailable to perform their functions on-site.”

The Government of the Indian state of Telangana has extended all the necessary support and assurance for smooth functioning of both pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D.

In Telangana, functional work sites – which come under pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D per G.O. No: 45 and 46 of Government of Telangana – have been declared exempt from the lockdown by both the Central and State Government authorities. Companies which are operating per the exemptions must take steps to ensure the health and safety of employees.

What Has Neuland Labs Been Doing?
For the last several months, Neuland has implemented the guidelines specified by the Government of Telangana as well as the National Directives for COVID-19 Management referenced in Circular No. 40-3/2020-DM-I-A. We are committed to serving the needs of the healthcare sector without compromising the health and safety of all Neuland employees – which is our first priority. We’ve taken a number of preventive measures at all work sites over the last four months:

  • Monitoring and Entrance to Facilities (e.g., guidelines for face masks, temperature checks, touchless recordkeeping, medical screening, transportation and more.)
  • Social Distancing & Travel Restrictions (e.g., meetings, social distancing measures, travel, site visitors, staggered schedules, seating arrangements, etc.)
  • Enhanced Sanitation Measures (e.g., increased cleaning frequencies in common areas and bathrooms, heightened awareness communications)

Neuland is continuously striving to make the workplace safer every day during this global health crisis. We are providing personal protective equipment to our employees, and have adopted enhanced personal hygiene and social distancing measures. We’ve also created a 24/7 helpline number which employees can call to express any concerns with respect to COVID-19.

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