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Shelter in place: staying steady amidst the Coronavirus outbreak
How could anyone have predicted that by 2020, a new coronavirus would have spread rapidly and dangerously, affecting not only those who come in contact with it but also anyone who needs food, supplies, to travel, to go to school and work, to receive medical treatment? I’m not going to lie; the urge to panic is strong, but there are things giving me hope that we will come out the other end knowing more about how to deal with future outbreaks of these proportions.
I’ll paraphrase Dan Rather: steadiness is the answer in times of crisis and uncertainty. I live in Santa Clara County, one of the hardest-hit areas in the US. On March 17, a shelter-in-place order sent about 7 million of us into our homes for the foreseeable future. I thought about fleeing to my family home near Lake Tahoe to get out of the Bay Area. However, as I am in a unique situation as an employee at a biotech company, which is exempt from the order, I decided to stay local and work at home.
I am a technical writer here at Takara Bio USA, Inc., headquartered in San Jose. We serve cell and molecular biology labs in academia and industry with products and services used for research purposes. When COVID-19’s initial impact hit in China, the Chinese government asked employees at the Takara Bio manufacturing facility located in Dalian, China to churn out RT-PCR kits used to detect the virus in patients—an unprecedented situation. It was heartwarming to see my colleagues there give up their Chinese New Year holiday to help meet this need.
Now, many clinicians and researchers around the world are using reagents and kits to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in patients and study it in laboratory settings, respectively. The immediate problem for these labs is that these detection kits are low on inventory or sold out because of the high demand for these products in clinical settings to test patients. How are these researchers supposed to continue their critical work to learn more about the virus? This is where my company is stepping up to the plate, enabling these research groups to do their work by offering our industry-leading reagents and kits.
The main reason I’m feeling alright in the midst of this instability is that Takara Bio is not closing its doors; rather, we’re all doubling our efforts to provide the materials and support scientists need during the outbreak. Everyone is doing their part. Our manufacturing staff are making sure we keep up with demand, our quality control team is making sure our reagents are held to ISO standards, and our R&D team continues to generate ideas and create products for better solutions. For my part, I’ve been helping create new web resources that reassure our customers we’re still there for them, and show them which of our products can be used for COVID-19 research. As a scientist in a science-adjacent role, I feel like I contribute to cutting-edge research efforts all the time, but right now, I’m contributing to the advancement of life-saving research to control this new illness. In the face of a pandemic, we’re staying steady; I feel grounded in my professional and personal lives. For the time being, I’ll shack up at home with my animals, wonder how I’m going to get more toilet paper, and continue typing and Skyping away to contribute to the cause.
Stay tuned for more stories from other Takara Bio employees sharing their contributions to the COVID-19 effort. Most importantly, take care of yourself!
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