Our Shot Begins At Home
For more than a year, we’ve all been doing our part – washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing. We have been forced to adjust to a new way of life. We have changed our work and travel routines. Many of us have lost family members and friends. Now, as vaccines against COVID-19 have become increasingly available in New Mexico and around the world, there is one final way we can all do our part. Get vaccinated.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s website at cv.nmhealth.org. You can register in advance to get your shot by signing up with the DOH at cvvaccine.nmhealth.org. You will be notified by NMDOH to schedule an appointment once the vaccine is available for you. If you are a leader in your profession or community, the DOH would like you to encourage fellow New Mexicans to get vaccinated. Learn how you can be a spokesperson for New Mexico’s vaccination efforts at togethernm.org/step-up-to-the-mic. If you are interested in volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps, sign up through volunteer.nmmrcserves.org/custom/1411/volunteer home. A new program now allows businesses, churches, community centers and other organizations to request on-site vaccination clinics. The on-site clinics – available at getvaxnm.com – will be offered to groups that can ensure the presence of at least 25 unvaccinated individuals. Medical and non-medical workers are needed to help provide critical healthcare staffing, assisting with operating COVID shelters, call centers, contact tracing, COVID testing sites and more.
While we’re not out of the woods yet, every person that gets vaccinated brings us one step closer to exceeding Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s target: vaccinating 60 percent of the state’s residents by the end of June. President Biden has established a similar goal for the nation. Let’s celebrate hitting these targets on the July 4th holiday and look forward to bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen all our schools and businesses. Rest assured, the bioscience community will continue to do its part to protect New Mexico’s residents.
How Our Bioscience Firms Are Helping End the Pandemic
Researchers and scientists across the country have worked tirelessly to develop vaccines that can be widely utilized to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19. In New Mexico, we are proud to be home to a thriving biomedical industry and are thankful for the work these professionals do in service of public health. Here are just a few examples of how New Mexico Biotechnology and Biomedical firms have responded to the crisis:
In collaboration with Harvard University, MIT’s Fab Lab Network, and the Fab Foundation, Fab Lab Hub, LLC of Santa Fe manufactured and distributed more than 30,000 face shields to hospitals in New Mexico and the Southwest serving Navajo and Pueblo communities. They also prototyped and are testing mobile hand-washing station designs with the Santa Fe Indian School for the many homes on reservations that do not have running water.
Within days of Governor Grisham’s work-from-home order, Sandia National Labs established a COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Technology Transfer Program spanning fundamental research through technology transfer. In total, Sandia executed 80 R&D and technology transfer activities. Key R&D projects included: a conversion kit to upgrade Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machines into fully functional ventilators, and a model to predict the need for medical resources and a framework for predicting uncertainty—the model turns disease-spread predictions into actionable information about healthcare system resources needed at the state and county level.
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) worked with Green Theme Technologies, Kleverly Inc., Self Powered Organics and tea.o.graphy to test the efficacy of these New Mexico businesses’ COVID-19-fighting technologies. As a result, all these New Mexico small businesses were able to begin production and sale of their COVID-19-combating products. The New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program made the work through the LANL possible.
TriCore Reference Laboratories has completed more than 850,000 tests using multiple testing platforms and methodologies completing as many as 5,000 cases a day during the fall surge. In addition to maximizing testing capacity at its core laboratory in Albuquerque, TriCore decentralized testing to its hospital labs statewide and opened the doors to a southern New Mexico core lab in Las Cruces, bringing testing closer to patients and maintaining rapid turnaround times. Working with the New Mexico Department of Health, TriCore systematically tested nursing home residents and staff throughout the state to protect this vulnerable population. Through its Research Institute, TriCore participated in 34 clinical investigations focused on COVID testing and treatment. With its analytics partner Rhodes Group, TriCore worked with NM’s largest hospitals to identify, in real-time, high-risk patients with a COVID infection who would benefit from antibody infusions to improve patient outcomes, as well as created an interactive infectious disease dashboard for their website to increase clarity across NM’s healthcare community.
The University of New Mexico’s Health Science Center’s (HSC) faculty, staff and students worked overtime in delivering care, administrating vaccines, delivering testing, assuring safety of its students, transitioning to online education, and many more activities. HSC also produced PPE, worked with the state to strengthen supply lines during the crisis, and much more. At the Pit, HSC has administered more than 70,000 vaccines. HSC is also part of the recent clinical trial of COVID vaccines in the pediatric population. It has undertaken dozens of COVID related research projects, including genotyping and sequencing all COVID cases in NM which has deepened the understanding of the molecular epidemiology and spread of the disease. Some of its investigators have also been involved in identifying new variants of COVID.
Nature’s Toolbox, Inc. (NTx), an early stage biomanufacturing and bioinformatics company, is working towards influencing and securing the world vaccine supply by developing rapid on-demand production of the full spectrum of protein vaccines. From common childhood vaccines to high-demand, emergency and experimental vaccines, NTx is capable of accelerated prototyping and manufacturing, with increased purity and greater stability while reducing both cost and production time. The platform will allow manufacturers to produce large quantities of vaccines in real-time, and specific to the predominant strain as it emerges.