In the fight against COVID-19, Europlaz Technologies Ltd., a medical device manufacturer based in Essex, England, immediately stepped forward to work with three customers on three different COVID-19 products, including one that has made a measurable difference to intensive care unit patients' survival odds.
When Testing for All — a not-for-profit initiative developed to provide United Kingdom workers with affordable and accessible coronavirus testing — launched in May 2020, the company had been founded a mere three and a half weeks previously, on April 23.
With government testing efforts focused on essential workers, and the 250 pounds ($327) being charged for a private antibody test, the founders of Testing for All proposed to establish a testing service for health care workers who were most at risk of catching and transmitting SARS-CoV-2.
Thanks to Europlaz, a contract medical device injection molder with 40 years of experience in the manufacture of products ranging from actuators and inhalers to complete operating room kits, quick and decisive action could be taken. Testing for All was especially impressed by the injection molder's fast response to the initial approach, its expertise in medical device manufacturing and track record of engineering highly technical devices.
"As soon as we met the Europlaz team, we knew we would work well together and they would be the best partner for us," said James Monico, the co-founder of Testing for All. "Their understanding of regulatory requirements and their excellent on-site facilities make them an ideal business to work with."
The companies moved rapidly ahead, progressing from an initial enquiry from the organization to a signed contract in the space of just five days. Europlaz also had clear capacity to manufacture the kits within their facilities, having just built two additional Class 7 clean rooms — the industry standard for manufacturing medical devices.
Europlaz set up the assembly of the test kits for Testing for All in its Class 7 clean room, and on May 18, Testing for All successfully processed its first SARS-CoV-2 test.
The coronavirus test kit designed by Testing for All consists of three different types of tests: rapid antibody tests for businesses, home antibody tests and antigen tests. Antibody tests can provide near-immediate results about whether a person potentially has or ever had COVID-19. Based on venous blood draw sampling, the tests could be collected on-site by a nurse or samples returned in the mail and results made available via an online portal within a few days. Early September, the company launched an at-home antibody testing kit using a finger prick sampling kit manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche.
In addition to working with Testing for All, Europlaz has also partnered with genetics research company Edinburgh Genetics on a project to manufacture antibody test kits, also based on a finger prick test. Edinburgh Genetics is a startup specializing in life science research and IVD equipment founded in the second half of 2019. Lacking the technical skills and manufacturing expertise needed to produce and launch the product, the company contacted Europlaz. A visit to the factory site was arranged with the result that Europlaz was awarded with the contract.
"As a young company, we've found Europlaz's technical expertise and its understanding of both supply chain management and the manufacturing process to be invaluable," said Alasdair Young, director of Edinburgh Genetics, who went on to call the partnership "very positive and productive."
Manufacture of the antibody test kits commenced at the beginning of May and have since been distributed around the world.
"We also supported Edinburgh Genetics with the donation of over 500 test kits to Autism Anglia to help autistic people and their families navigate this trying time," said a Europlaz company spokesperson.