BioHealth & Life Sciences / Maryland Assets / Military and Federal
Maryland’s federal agencies & military installations at the heart of COVID-19 research
By Julie Miller /
December 15, 2020

As the world combats COVID-19, researchers and scientists have been working tirelessly to understand the virus and its implications on health, the economy, and everything in between. In addition to universities and private companies, there’s a critical force behind so much COVID-19 research: federal agencies and military installations. And with 75 federal research labs, 60 federal facilities, and 20 military facilities, Maryland is at the heart of research that will help the world overcome COVID-19. Here are just a few ways Maryland’s federal agencies and military installations are helping us conquer COVID-19. 

The FDA is the last stop for vaccines 

Over the past nine months, various companies, including several in Maryland, have been racing to produce a COVID-19 vaccine. The world enthusiastically accepted the news that companies produced effective vaccines at record speeds. All eyes are on Maryland-headquartered FDA now as vaccines are being approved. In addition to the important job of reviewing and approving a vaccine, the FDA has responded to COVID-19 in several other ways, including: making it easier to mobilize 3D printing for PPE production and accelerating COVID-19 treatments. 

NASA is researching environmental, economic and societal impacts of the pandemic

NASA is funding and conducting research in its Earth Science Division to study the environmental, economic and societal impacts of COVID-19. Currently 17 studies are underway, five of which are led by Maryland investigators. Studies of nighttime light data to assess the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, and visualization and analysis of the pandemic’s effects on the interconnected components of the agricultural sector are among the NASA research taking place here in Maryland. 

Army is playing critical role in Operation Warp Speed and other virus response

Operation Warp Speed relies on the expertise at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), both based in Maryland. Additionally, the operation uses WRAIR efforts to identify patient populations and establish clinical trial sites, develop advanced immunology, conduct full-scale manufacturing, perform clinical trials and analyze data to advance novel vaccine candidates. Also at WRAIR, a team of scientists analyzed 27,000 individuals infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to determine that the virus has mutated minimally since December 2019, suggesting one vaccine would be sufficient to combat global infections. 

NIST researchers investigate effectiveness of masks and tests

Researchers at the National Institutes of Science and Technology have also been looking at ways to improve our response to COVID-19. A NIST researcher demonstrated airflow patterns through masks with and without exhalation valves; concluding that exhalation valves do not slow the spread of COVID-19. Researchers at NIST also uncovered a technique that could make the COVID-19 swab test up to 10 times more sensitive. 

Learn more about Maryland’s military & federal assets here. 





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