Getting Through the Crisis Together
During the pandemic, the number one priority was protecting members of staff while at the same time ensuring that the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut remained able to function.
As the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, it is part of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut’s responsibility to use its workforce and its knowledge to help combat the pandemic. For this reason, in February 2020 Vice President Prof. Stefan Vieths activated the internal crisis team. This interdisciplinary team, which consists of heads of division, senior managers, committee representatives and the head of the Occupational Safety and Health Protection unit, looked at the pandemic situation and assessed its effects on internal processes. With a high level of specialist competence, the internal crisis team was able to make balanced decisions and implement measures, and thus create the necessary conditions for maintaining the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut's ability to function. The crisis team communicated all the latest information, decisions and measures via the staff portal. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Protection unit was available for individual questions.
A great deal was asked of our employees during the pandemic. But what was impressive was that in a crisis the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut functions as a team which sticks together and which fulfils its duties together.Prof. Stefan Vieths , Vice President and Head of the Internal Crisis Team
Effects on all areas of work: laboratory, office and infrastructure
The crisis team identified internal processes that were especially vulnerable on account of the pandemic situation while at the same time being critical to the functioning of the Institute. This included a focus on product and batch testing: if laboratory areas had to close as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infections among the teams, it would lead to bottlenecks in the supply of vaccines and biomedicines. Product testing must run smoothly – including for the batch testing of COVID-19 vaccines. For this reason, the spread of infection must absolutely not be permitted to occur in the first place. A shift operation with isolated teams was therefore introduced in the product-testing areas.
All staff members who were able to work from home were instructed to do so. In this way, they were not only protecting themselves, but also their colleagues who had to be on site. Since opportunities and technical facilities for working from home were already in place before the pandemic, the switch to remote working was successful – the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut remained fully operational at all times.
After more than a year of the pandemic, it is clear that the internal crisis management team has succeeded in leading the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut safely through the crisis. The measures and the jointly developed hygiene concepts have been successful; all members of staff can perform their work in a safe environment. Whether on site or working from home, in the office or in the laboratory, colleagues have stuck together during the crisis, worked as a team and together have made an important contribution to combating the pandemic.