COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Research

Any scope of research which involves the isolation, concentration, propagation, or in vivo inoculation with viable SARS-CoV-2 must be performed in accordance with BSL-3/ABSL-3 containment and practices. For more information, please contact the EH&S Biological Safety Office (BSO@ehs.ufl.edu or 352-392-1591).

  • All research projects involving COVID-19 specimens, viral genetic sequences, or SARS-CoV-2 must be registered within the Gator TRACS system. Prior to initiation, projects must be approved by the biosafety office or the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). .
  • Project personnel handling COVID-19 specimens must maintain annual Bloodborne Pathogens / Biomedical Waste training (EHS850G) through the myTraining platform.
  • The Principal Investigator or Lab Supervisor is responsible for developing project-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs), providing project-specific training to research personnel, and ensuring adherence to stipulations detailed in the project registration. On a case-by-case basis, the EH&S Biosafety Office may be able to provide in-person training.
  • Individuals responsible for packaging/shipping viable specimens must complete the Shipping and Transport of Biological Materials training course (EHS852). Please contact the Biosafety Office at BSO@ehs.ufl.edu to register for this course. Package shipments accordingly:
    • Specimens derived from COVID-19 patients in accordance with UN 3373, Category B standards.
    • SARS-CoV-2 cultures or isolates should be shipped as Category A, UN2814, “infectious substance, affecting humans”.
  • All manipulation of specimens derived from COVID-19 positive patients must be performed using a certified biosafety cabinet (BSC).
  • When work is ongoing, keep the laboratory door closed. This is essential for maintaining room-inward directional (negative) airflow and preventing inadvertent breach of the BSC protective air barrier. If the door does not have a window, a sign must be posted on the door to discourage entry when specimens are actively being manipulated.
  • Routinely disinfect work surfaces and all items/supplies that are to be removed from the BSC. Disinfectants must be included on EPA List N or the product label must state efficacy against any human coronavirus.
  • It is important to note that SARS-CoV-2 genomic material is considered to be directly infectious. Following extraction, it is important to perform downstream analyses in accordance with standard BSL-2 containment and practices.
  • Centrifugation of COVID-19 specimens requires aerosol-tight (gasket sealed) rotors/cups/buckets.
  • Doff gloves using the ‘beak’ method.
  • Wash hands in accordance with CDC/WHO guidance.

Required BSL-2+ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

1. Two pairs of disposable gloves:

1a. It is recommended that the inner/outer pairs are of contrasting colors to readily detect tears.

1b. The inner pair should be tucked into the gown and optimally taped to the cuff (using Painter's tape).

2. Fluid-impervious gown (optimally, front-facing):

3. Mucous membrane protection consisting of either:

3a. Surgical mask with safety glasses/goggles.

or

3b. Surgical mask with a face shield.

BSL-2+ PPE Doffing:

1. Doff the outer pair of gloves before exiting the biosafety cabinet, BSC.

2. Remove the fluid-impervious gown by:

2a. If applicable, remove tape from inner glove/gown.

2b. Doff and discard gown

or

2c. Surface disinfect gown, doff, and safely store for reuse.

3. Surface disinfect inner gloves.

4. Doff and disinfect face / eye protection.

5. Surface disinfect inner gloves.

6. Doff and discard surgical mask.

7. Doff inner gloves.

8. Wash hands.

Required BSL-2+ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

1. Two pairs of disposable gloves:

1a. It is recommended that the inner/outer pairs are of contrasting colors to readily detect tears.

1b. The inner pair should be tucked into the gown and optimally taped to the cuff (using Painter's tape).

2. Fluid-impervious gown (optimally, front-facing):

3. Mucous membrane protection consisting of either:

3a. N95 respirator* with safety glasses/goggles.

or

3b. N95 respirator* with a face shield.

BSL-2+ PPE Doffing:

1. Doff the outer pair of gloves before exiting the biosafety cabinet, BSC.

2. Remove the fluid-impervious gown by:

2a. If applicable, remove tape from inner glove/gown.

2b. Doff and discard gown

or

2c. Surface disinfect gown, doff, and safely store for reuse.

3. Surface disinfect inner gloves.

4. Doff and disinfect face / eye protection.

5. Surface disinfect inner gloves.

6. Doff and discard N95 respirator.**

7. Doff inner gloves.

8. Wash hands.

* Personnel who wear an N95 must be medically cleared and fit tested

** If supplies are limited, the N95 may be reused as follows:
Store the N95 respirator in a dedicated paper bag (use a separate bag for each individual respirator). Rotate N95 use so that a given mask is not used more than once every 5 days. The paper bag must be clearly labeled with the user’s name and appropriate reuse date.

If COVID-19 specimens are inactivated in accordance with the following validated methods, products can be safely handled in accordance with standard BSL-2 PPE. Otherwise, alternative inactivation methods must be reviewed and approved by the BSO/IBC prior to implementation.

Required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  1. Single pair of disposable gloves.
  2. Polyester lab coat.
  3. Mucous membrane protection, as necessary.*

PPE Doffing:

  1. Surface disinfect gloves before exiting the BSC.
  2. Doff lab coat.
  3. Surface disinfect gloves.
  4. Doff and disinfect face / eye protection.
  5. Surface disinfect gloves.
  6. If applicable, doff and discard surgical mask.
  7. Doff gloves.
  8. Wash hands.

* If work is properly performed in the BSC, the unit affords sufficient mucous membrane protection. However, if experiments must be performed outside of BSC containment, personnel must don appropriate face/eye protection.