The new coronavirus COVID-19, which first appeared in the Chinese province of Wuhan, has spread to all continents of the world within just a few weeks. National and international authorities are currently managing efforts to contain the virus that involve deliberately interrupting infection chains. At the same time, the virus is being examined at laboratories worldwide and bred for research purposes in order to understand how it works. This enables the development of drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 (2019-nCoV / SARS-CoV-2) in the long term. Systec autoclaves are perfectly suited to comply with the safety guidelines at appropriate laboratories that have been published for this purpose by the World Health Organization (WHO).
HOW DO AUTOCLAVES INCREASE SAFETY AGAINST CORONAVIRUS?
Any further spread of the novel coronavirus can have a negative impact on the current health situation of the international community. This includes the potential spread of COVID-19 through failure to comply with adequate safety standards at biological laboratories. Not only are employees themselves at risk of being infected, but waste from safety areas could also contain traces of the coronavirus if it has not been sterilized according to WHO standards.
IDEAL AUTOCLAVES FOR THE CORONAVIRUS RESEARCH ACCORDING TO WHO (BSL-2 / BSL-3)
According to the WHO guideline “Laboratory biosafety guidance related to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” [link here] in the version from February 12, 2020, the biosafety levels BSL-2 and BSL-3 are required in order to safely handle COVID-19: Laboratories at which diagnostic work such as virus sequencing is conducted should conform to the BSL-2 standard, while laboratories at which the virus is cultivated or otherwise present in high concentrations should operate on the basis of BSL-3.
In both cases, Systec laboratory autoclaves are ideal for sterilization of contaminated waste, instruments, culture media or laboratory equipment to prevent the accidental spread of the coronavirus. This is primarily thanks to three key properties that the WHO stipulates as mandatory or recommends for BSL-2 and BSL-3-compliant sterilization equipment. Systec is offering safe and validatable sterilization solutions with accurate documentation.
Creating a 100% steam environment
Systec autoclaves offer unique features and options to ensure correct and efficient sterilization. Many autoclaves have a physical issue achieving a 100% steam environment. The air exhaust valve is from the top of the chamber while introducing steam from the bottom. Air is heavier than steam so the air is compacted at the bottom of the vessel and steam will rise to the top leaving residual air in the system. Air has a much lower heat capacity than steam resulting in ineffective sterilization in the areas that are not completely steam saturated. Systec autoclaves have been designed to exhaust air from the bottom of the chamber and introducing steam at the top while closely monitoring the temperature and corresponding steam pressure. Should the steam or temperature vary outside of the programmed tolerances the system will alert the end user. Systec autoclaves also have a pulsed pre-vacuum option that ensures complete air removal so steam is able to reach all parts of instruments, hollow items and inside waste bags.
Systec autoclaves have a vacuum system that removes the air from the sterilization chamber of the device in several vacuum pulses before the actual autoclaving process. The cold air can thus be removed from solids (e.g. pipette tips, glassware) and porous materials (e.g. textiles, filters) to guarantee the sterilizing effect of the saturated steam subsequently injected. Thus, for example, Systec autoclaves keep coronavirus pathogens in cold-air enclosures from surviving the heating process.
Exhaust air filtration
A possible danger with autoclaving is the potential of certain pathogens to escape through the exhaust air during the sterilization process before the temperatures required for inactivation have been reached. When working in connection with the corona virus, you can easily prevent this effect by using Systec autoclaves in combination with the feature of exhaust air filtration. Exhaust air filtration uses sterile air filters with a heat-resistant PTFE membrane, which reliably retains microorganisms with a pore size of 0.2 μm. As a result, all escaping gases are passed through the above-mentioned sterile air filter in the heating and sterilization phase. This and the additional condensate activation ensure that no non-sterile or contaminated material can escape from the sterilization chamber.
Homogenous heat gradient
A consistent heat gradient throughout the chamber is necessary for correct sterilization. Microbiology International offers temperature mapping to ensure consistent and even heating. Using multiple temperature sensors throughout the chamber and validation protocols with accuracies traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), we can confirm the performance of your Systec autoclave is within a maximum deviation of less than 2.0ºC between any two sensors.
To contain the novel coronavirus, it is paramount to understand its pathways. Systec steam sterilizers guarantee this by digitally documenting all sterilization processes. Among other things, the system records the sterilization temperatures and periods so that any application errors can be traced by laboratory employees. If there is a coronavirus contamination due to faulty work processes, it can be determined exactly which sterilization items are affected and when the faulty process occurred, allowing a resulting infection chain to be quickly identified and interrupted.
SYSTEC HELPS CONTAIN THE CORONAVIRUS
As the global market leader in the laboratory autoclave industry, we know all about reliable and validatable sterilization solutions with corresponding documentation options. Our autoclaves, in conjunction with adequate occupational safety processes, guarantee the conformity of BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratories in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization. Many countries are currently using Systec autoclaves for coronavirus research.