A gloved worker arranges sealed face masks, one of the personal protection equipment types that healthcare workers need to treat COVID-19 patients safely.

The Disruption Series: Medical Manufacturing Surge

How to meet demand for personal protective equipment and medical devices during COVID-19

This is the second piece in the Lionbridge Disruption Series, a collection of commentary from life sciences experts on how the industry is changing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

As COVID-19 continues to sweep through cities around the globe, healthcare workers remain at the front lines to care for those hit the hardest. The strain of this patient influx combined with the easily transmissible nature of the disease necessitates more medical and personal protective equipment. Manufacturers of items such as ventilators, masks, respirators, gloves and more are under immense pressure to keep up with this increased demand. Without enough of these items, medical personnel are forced to reuse their supplies, potentially endangering themselves and others as well as undercutting the impact of public health “stay home” measures.

How can the world’s manufacturers make enough PPE?

The usual suspects for medical equipment and device manufacturing are already working quickly to catch up with the swell of demand. Corporations and universities and even individuals around the globe are pitching in to increase supply. Some of these new entrants are using designs from health organizations. Others are making completely new prototypes and ideally planning around variable supply chains.

How do manufacturers switching to PPE production comply with all regional regulations?

The steps and requirements for PPE production are vastly different than, say, auto part manufacturing, although the precision required and the life-saving aspects of both depend on incredible precision. In addition to any potential retraining for workers, companies need to meet a different set of standards from regulatory agencies. This includes requirements for communications about the equipment. Anyone manufacturing for a European audience needs to document their product in multiple languages—even with slightly less stringent requirements during this exceptional time.

What efforts can companies outsource to speed distribution?

Time is of the essence during the fight against COVID-19. That’s why it’s critical that we all play to our strong suits. Translation of internal communications requires precision beyond what a bilingual employee may be able to provide. Product labeling and packaging requires a background in the life sciences and understanding of country and regional requirements. IFUs require not just an understanding of a product itself but also how to best communicate with the target audiences, potentially across areas of expertise and ages.

At Lionbridge we have expert translators and transcreators around the world ready to support traditional and new manufacturers in these processes. Our follow-the-sun model means we can work through the night for fast-turn projects, getting your products to market as soon as possible so they can serve their purpose. In every region we have experience project managers to liaise with your teams and help guide you through new markets, new regulations and new languages. Reach out to us to see how we can accelerate your contribution to the global effort to thwart this pandemic.

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Mark Aiello
Mark Aiello