Using technology to fight the pandemic

Published: 24-Jun-2020

Many of Vaisala’s products and systems provide a major contribution in the fight against communicable diseases, and in the attached article we outline some of the vitally important ways in which the company’s technologies are helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, health and well-being featured highly in the priorities of many organisations, governments and citizens. This drove technology companies such as Vaisala to develop products which meet the demands of increasingly health conscious societies. Good Health and Well-Being is also one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3), which seeks to improve people’s health, increase life expectancy, reduce maternal and child mortality and fight communicable diseases.

Vaisala has integrated the UN SDGs into its strategic planning in order to contribute to sustainable development and find inspiration for the development of new business and sustainable business practices. Many of Vaisala’s products and systems provide a major contribution in the fight against communicable diseases, and in the following article we outline some of the vitally important ways in which the company’s technologies are helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring optimal conditions for COVID-19 vaccine development

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of COVID-19. The word COVID-19 represents Corona (CO) Virus (VI) Disease (D) and 19(2019) is the year that the first cases were detected in China’s Wuhan City. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, first isolated in the 1960s from the nasal cavities of patients suffering with colds. It is believed that Coronaviruses are responsible for 10-15% of colds worldwide, and have a seasonal pattern.

As a new variant virus, SARS-CoV-2 spread quickly and easily around the world, resulting in large numbers of deaths and causing enormous economic damage. With no approved treatment immediately available, the race is on to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, and Vaisala provides a technology to support that mission.

In March 2020 an express order was received from Wuhan, China for the rapid delivery of GMP231 Carbon Dioxide Transmitters to monitor and control carbon dioxide levels in incubators. These incubators are used for the cultivation of microorganisms, such as a virus; the cultured virus is then used to help develop a vaccine. The main role of the GMP231 probes is to ensure that the carbon dioxide levels inside the incubators maintain the optimal pH level for cultivation.

Vaisala's liquid measurements refractometer

Vaisala's liquid measurements refractometer

Technology for managing drug and vaccine manufacture

The Vaisala liquid measurements refractometer is used in drug development and in vaccine manufacture where it ensures safety and efficacy. It can be used in the development of virus-based vaccines, for diseases such as influenza, swine flu, and potentially COVID-19.

Refractometers determine the concentration of dissolved solids by making an optical measurement of a solution’s refractive index (RI) and temperature. The monitoring of RI can improve the understanding of process conditions, reduce drug development time, increase production capacity and stability, improve product quality, and demonstrate compliance with regulations. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to demonstrate process validation from drug discovery to full production, and this can be achieved through RI measurements.

The Vaisala refractometers were specially designed for the pharmaceutical industry where the refractometer measures dissolved components in liquids. This includes the continuous measurement of sucrose densities in the virus purification process. After centrifugation, the viruses band to a specific sucrose density gradient, and by measuring that density with the refractometer the viruses can be safely and efficiently collected. With these reliable measurements, vaccines can be developed as quickly and as safely as possible without compromising quality.

Cleamix portable hydrogen peroxide vapor generator

Cleamix portable hydrogen peroxide vapor generator

Technology for ensuring effective bio-decontamination

Innovative Vaisala measurement technology is employed in frontline bio-decontamination work to kill harmful organisms such as viruses on surfaces. For example, Cleamix Oy performed hydrogen peroxide vapor bio-decontamination work in South Korea during the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. The Cleamix portable hydrogen peroxide vapor generators use Vaisala’s HPP270 series probes to monitor and control vapor output during bio-decontamination.

Hydrogen peroxide vapor is capable of killing even the most resistant microorganisms, which is why it is utilised in the disinfection of critical spaces. Decontamination requires specific concentrations for specific periods of time. Furthermore, hydrogen peroxide is an unstable gas so it has to be monitored closely. It is also a costly resource so its use needs to be optimized.

In the absence of hydrogen peroxide vapor, the relative humidity of air is equal to the relative saturation. When vaporized hydrogen peroxide is introduced, the relative saturation becomes greater than the relative humidity. Relative saturation is a parameter that indicates the humidity of the air caused by both hydrogen peroxide vapor and water vapor. When relative saturation reaches 100 %RS, the vapor mixture starts to condense. Monitoring the relative saturation value during a process is therefore crucial, because it indicates the saturation point of the combined vapors.

The unique Vaisala PEROXCAP hydrogen peroxide sensor employed by the HPP272 probe measures relative saturation as well as dew point and vapor pressure, which can also be critical parameters in decontamination. The probe therefore guarantees stable, reliable and precise hydrogen peroxide measurements throughout the decontamination cycle, even in high humidity. It is therefore utilised by the manufacturers of bio-decontamination equipment around the world.

Monitoring pharmaceutical and health care facilities

Vaisala’s industrial instruments and systems are routinely employed to monitor critical conditions in a wide variety of pharmaceutical and healthcare applications. Monitoring is essential in these circumstances because most pharmaceutical production processes, including transport and storage, have to be undertaken in strictly controlled environmental conditions. Vaisala’s technologies are therefore utilised in research, manufacturing, cleanroom, processing, distribution and storage environments involving products such as vaccines, drugs, blood, biologics etc.

One of the Vaisala’s key technologies is the viewLinc Continuous Monitoring System for research, manufacturing and storage facilities. The system was designed for highly regulated life science applications such as pharmaceutical warehouses, laboratories, cold rooms, and cleanrooms. By monitoring critical parameters in these spaces, valuable products are preserved and safeguarded for human use. For example, in the new children’s hospital in Helsinki, Finland, the viewLinc system monitors the tissue bank around the clock.


By monitoring critical environments and conditions in healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries, Vaisala solutions are helping to ensure patient and personnel safety as well as the safety and efficacy of medicines and vaccines. These technologies are making a significant contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to help support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the future.

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