Top 10 In Demand Covid Products

We asked Luke, our Business Development and Marketing Manager, to reflect on a difficult year for laboratory supplies and consider the products which have caused the most problems. Here are his thoughts, and solutions. 

1. Swabs

The initial advice from the WHO in response to COVID-19 was to test, test, test which, despite being sound advice, caused huge pressure on the supply of products involved in laboratory testing. The first casualty, where demand totally outstripped supply, was transport swabs with Universal or Viral Transport Media. Appleton Woods took the proactive step to look for suitable alternatives and managed to secure excellent stocks of swabs with amies media, which has been shown to be an excellent alternative to UTM for transport of viral samples.
This dedication to finding a solution bailed out one large London NHS trust at the 11th hour when they were down to their last 500 swabs. We have since supplied other NHS trusts, PHE, Lighthouse and other Covid-19 testing labs and currently have stocks available to ship.

Appleton Woods have eased the pressure on an already strained supply chain and quite literally enabled testing to continue 

Senior Biomedical Scientist – NHS Microbiology 

2. Nitrile Gloves  

PPE has been one of the major talking points of the pandemic, with the government coming under intense scrutiny for failing to provide sufficient protection to frontline workers, and laboratory staff didn’t escape this with many having to use inferior gloves in the absence of their normal brand. Read our glove statement here which explains why this has happened.
Appleton Woods has stock of Shield Scientific Cat III nitrile gloves with an AQL of 0.25 (lowest available). The full range, including extended length 300mm and accelerator free gloves, can be found here.
All the additional PPE being used has created another issue; a huge increase in laboratory waste. It is important that we do all we can to minimise the impact of this and two ways to help could be to use the Ecoshield glove, these are supplied in recycled cardboard boxes with vegetable ink, and to recycle non-hazardous gloves. Talk to our product specialist, Hollyabout our appCYCLE box. 

3. Filter Pipette Tips

2020 certainly had its challenges for procurement departments and lab managers, but 2021 is fast becoming the ‘year of filter tip shortages’. Appleton Woods, like most suppliers of laboratory consumables, is inundated daily with enquiries for filter pipette tips as the leading brands continue to be in very short supply. You can read an article explaining how the shortage has come about and the temporary measures you can put in place to alleviate the supply issue here. Our Product Manager, Holly Cox, has worked incredibly hard to source a high quality and, crucially, consistent supplier of filter tips to bring into the Appleton range.
“Requesting that our current customers test and approve new products is an essential part of our new product onboarding process and, despite the urgency to find a filter tip supplier, this project is no different. I am pleased to say the feedback on these tips is excellent and, despite the limited availability, we have managed to source these tips from one of our existing and trusted suppliers who share our commitment to introducing sustainable products. A large percentage of our stock arriving in May are reload filter tips housed in recyclable, cardboard packaging” 
Holly Cox – Product Manager

4. AppZaps 

As scientists, compromising and altering protocols isn’t in our nature and any unnecessary variation is best avoided, but the shortages have definitely challenged this. Some labs have decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and implemented ‘work arounds’ out of necessity – in some instances the choice being change or hang up your pipettor! One such compromise is the use of non-filter tips for protocols that would normally require the added security of the aerosol barrier. With good technique this change may not be an issue but if you are working with SARS-CoV-2, or any other pathogen, you may wish to implement other measures to reduce the risk of contaminating your sample or, more importantly, yourself!
appZAP is one such measure that will reduce these risks by UV sterilising six pipettors simultaneously in 28 minutes.
appZAP has proven to be incredibly useful for a number of our COVID testing customers who are implementing stringent safety and contamination prevention measures but I envisage these units to be of value in any lab including University teaching labs. The very short run time enables pipettes to be turned around within a tea break – if you get one!”
Lana Robinson – Equipment Sales Specialist

5. Deep Well Plates  

Appleton Deepwell Plates
If you have automation within your lab you will be familiar with deep well plates and their importance in many workflows, as well as the frustration of having to alter programming to accommodate a new product with slightly different dimensions. If you have not so far had to do this as a result of the increased COVID demand on these products you have done very well indeed!
The COVID sample preparation process adopted by the UK Government requires five of these plates per 96 samples, so it’s easy to see why the shortage has come about. Most of our customers for these products are having to embrace change and look for alternatives yet again. If that’s you, then look no further – our Product Manager Holly has found an abundant, high-quality alternative which has been validated by prestigious organisations including a leading research institute in London.
Not only are the Appleton Deep Well Plates compatible with the main robotic platforms, but they can offer a saving over the current brand used. More information, including the product dimensions, can be found on the product page.

6. PCR Plates 

Over the last couple of weeks enquiries for 96 well sub and semi skirted PCR plates have dramatically increased, this suggests some of the market-leading brands are now struggling to supply with some customers quoting June as the next available delivery date. Our Appleton range has an alternative that is compatible with the main PCR and qPCR thermal cyclers and the best news is – we have stock! Contact us to check the most suitable plate for your machine.

7. Plate Centrifuges 

With the majority of COVID related lab consumables in short supply, the last thing any scientists wants is to have to repeat a test and sometimes it comes down to the simplest of steps on the protocol – such as spinning down your plate before thermal cycling.
The Appleton PCR Plate Centrifuge does exactly what it says on the box and ensures every last drop of sample and reagent are at the bottom of the well. It’s no wonder they are fast becoming a top seller.  
Appleton PCR Plate Spinner

8. Primer Design PCR Assay

With large government contracts and PHE approval for their SARS-CoV-2 Genesig master mix, it’s no surprise to see the massive increase in sales for Novacyt, the parent company of Primer Design. Appleton Woods is proud to distribute such an effective and globally endorsed range and it’s great to say there are no supply issues on this product!
If you are looking to incorporate a variant approved product into your testing workflow, which is accompanied by weekly reports on its effectiveness in detecting variants, or if you are starting a new COVID research project then get in touch with Dr Stewart Sale, our Reagent Product Specialist.

9. Microcentrifuge Tubes

It’s hard to get excited about a plastic tube that holds 1.5ml of liquid and has a push cap – but you don’t know what you’ll miss until it’s gone! Many COVID samples are being extracted, and then transported, in these laboratory mainstays, and that means they are fast becoming something of a collector’s item. 
Fortunately, Holly had her crystal ball out when she convinced Chris Brown, our Managing Director, to invest in several hundred thousand last year. There is still stock available to ship immediately and on special offer, so if you are in short supply or want to get ahead of the scramble please get in touch.   

10. Class II Cabinets

The safety of laboratory staff carrying out the large scale testing of COVID samples up and down the country is of paramount importance. Understandably, WHO recommends this work is done within a Class II cabinet to protect the operator.
Appleton Woods has supplied and coordinated delivery and installation of a record number of cabinets this year, often to difficult delivery points requiring specialist equipment, and on tight time scales. Our equipment specialist Lana has managed this process from start to finish for some very high-profile customers essential to the COVID testing response and is skilled in dealing with even the most demanding of requests. Lana is in regular dialogue with our three clean air product suppliers to offer the best and most timely solution. One supplier who fits our sustainability ethos is Faster.
“Faster Safety Cabinets are manufactured in a factory powered by solar panels, and they are made from 99% recyclable components. Appleton Woods are really focused on trying to offer products that are sustainably sourced and as such, it is great to work with Faster. Additionally, their safety cabinets are incredibly versatile, as they can be customised to suit very specific applications if required.”
Lana Robinson – Equipment Sales Specialist

Luke Housley is Business Development and Marketing Manager at Appleton Woods Ltd. For further information contact Luke at 

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