JAX® Mice & Services Response to COVID-19


Updated: March 25, 2020

Our top priority at The Jackson Laboratory is ensuring the health and well-being of our community and mice. We have enacted our emergency response protocols to ensure continued, uninterrupted access to JAX Mice and Services for the global scientific community and mice under our care.

We have compiled this information to keep customers updated on the rapidly evolving situation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and JAX’s preparedness and response plans. As the situation changes, we will keep this page updated with the latest information and JAX’s action items. Additionally, we have a response team dedicated to communicating with customers should any changes or updates occur. If the information below does not answer your questions or you would like to request additional information, please contact: micetech@jax.org.

Safety of the JAX Employees and Community

The health and well-being of our colleagues, customers, and community is our top priority. In response to COVID-19, we have activated our emergency preparedness taskforce to manage and execute operational plans in response to COVID-19. Our primary focus is to ensure the safety of personnel as well as uninterrupted JAX operations related to mouse production, distribution, and services. This also includes a wide range of contingency plans to ensure we have the necessary supplies needed to run these operations safely, effectively, and at the same high quality you expect from JAX. These plans are informed by our paramount goal of safeguarding the health and well-being of our employees, the welfare of the mice under our care, and our mission of continuing to advance biomedical research.

Quality and Access to JAX Mice

The welfare and quality of JAX Mice remains a top priority. At the present time, we have no plans to suspend any of our operations including breeding, validation and care of our mice, or any of the services associated with running client studies. Currently, all models are available and we are continuing to accept new orders for mice and services. Additionally, JAX is in communication with our vendors and transporters to avoid any delays in supply or transportation. We are monitoring all aspects of COVID-19 and have a team of experts addressing this highly fluid situation.

The Jackson Laboratory is recognized as a leader in the distribution of high health status mice that are regularly tested for the exclusion of a wide range of organisms, both pathogenic and opportunistic. We maintain these standards using strict protocols that include personal protective clothing, gloves, and masks or respiratory gear to eliminate direct physical contact with our mice. We also use sterilized supplies, food, water, and bedding and incorporate strict cleaning protocols to maintain this high level of animal health. These normal and standard practices are in place to prevent interchange of organisms between mice and the people working with them.

Please notify us if you are unable to accept or need to cancel your mice orders by emailing orderquest@jax.org

JAX Mice and Services COVID-19: Commonly Asked Questions

Has JAX activated a formal business continuity plan at their facilities to maintain current operations?

Yes. JAX’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of their community and mice. In response to COVID-19, they have assembled a taskforce to prepare and manage plans for ensuring safety of their personnel as well as uninterrupted JAX operations related to mouse production, distribution, and services. This also includes a wide range of contingency plans to ensure they have the necessary supplies needed to run these operations safely and effectively. These plans are informed by their paramount goals of safeguarding the health of their employees, welfare of the mice under their care, and their mission of continuing to advance biomedical research.

Does JAX anticipate impacts to their ability to supply materials and/or services that they are providing to customers due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) global outbreak?

No. JAX is not experiencing any impacts to supply mouse models or services at this time. JAX is in communication with their vendors and transporters to ensure there are no delays in supply or transportation.

Is JAX limiting the availability of mouse models or services?

No. All JAX operations are active including breeding, model generation, the validation and characterization of our mice, and in vivo studies.

Has JAX received any information from their internal suppliers that may impact their ability to provide materials/services to customers?

As part of activating their emergency response plan, JAX has reached out to their key vendors and suppliers to ensure they have the necessary internal supplies needed to run their operations safely and effectively.

Is JAX aware of any shortages of materials, un-availability of key personnel, or lack of access to physical sites/locations that may be further impacted by the current outbreak?

No. The JAX taskforce is focused on the safety of personnel while also ensuring uninterrupted operations related to mouse production, distribution, and services. This also includes a wide range of contingency plans to ensure they have the necessary supplies needed to run these operations safely and effectively. These plans are developed with the goal of safeguarding the health of their employees, welfare of the mice under their care, and their mission of continuing to advance biomedical research.

Is JAX aware of any current or potential logistical, regulatory (e.g. export bans), or service delivery issues in continuing to provide materials/services to customers?

International Deliveries: JAX is aware of changes to flight schedules, and increased oversight and review of animal shipments in many locations. However, the JAX Global Relations & Logistics teams are working through each change, and adjusting routing and processes to ensure minimal to no disruption.

Domestic (US & Canada) Deliveries: There is no impact to these deliveries, which use dedicated animal transport teams.

Has JAX instituted internal travel restrictions due to COVID-19?

Yes, JAX is currently restricting international travel to Europe and areas of Asia, however there are no anticipated impacts to JAX customers. JAX personnel will be utilizing teleconference and Webex to ensure continued communication with customers for meetings.

Can humanized mice (immunodeficient mice engrafted with human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells) be infected with Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)?

There are specific proteins used by SARS-CoV-2 to gain entry into cells and cause infection. For example, one such protein important in SARS CoV infection, and highly likely used by SARS CoV-2, is human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2). The mouse homolog binds poorly to the virus and the mice do not develop significant clinical disease (PMID: 17079315). Subsets of cells from the human hematopoietic compartment do express hACE2 and other potentially relevant molecules. Therefore, it is technically/scientifically possible for humanized mice to be infected. However, given JAX’s strict handling conditions, the chances of humanized mice being infected with SARS-CoV-2 is extremely remote. These humanized mice are housed and handled under ABSL2. JAX personnel must change into sterilized garments, are gloved, and use respiratory protection. Animals are handled in a laminar flow hood. Therefore, there is no physical contact or respiratory interchange between the animals and the scientists working with the mice.

How has JAX changed the procedures in delivery and pick up of mice and specimens?

Drivers are practicing general hygiene and personal protective measures in accordance with CDC workplace guidelines. They are practicing physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and are remaining six feet away where proximate contact is avoidable. There is no sharing of pens, phones, or other personal items. In lieu of collecting signatures, they will simply enter the full name of receiving personnel. In most areas, drivers use PPE latex gloves, following recommended removal/disposal techniques. Finally, drivers are disinfecting the interior of vehicle throughout workday and disinfecting their hands (and gloves) before and after each delivery.

For Additional Questions:

If the information provided does not answer your questions or you would like to request additional information, please contact: micetech@jax.org.

Supporting the Research Community: Risk Mitigation

Our history with risk mitigation and supporting other organizations during natural disasters has allowed us to create internal programs and assist others in preparing for all unforeseen circumstances. Here are a few things to consider in your emergency response plan:
Preparation

  • Identify your facilities’ novel strains
  • Ensure strains are identified with proper nomenclature and back up information off-site
  • Contact your services vendors to update maintenance and shipping instructions for existing projects
  • Notify your vendor of closures and expected needs upon re-opening

Mitigate Loss

  • Cryopreserve your strains with reliable methods such as the sperm cryo kit
  • Store information and samples in two or more places
  • Use automatically filled and continuously monitored cryopreservation tanks to store samples

IF IMPACTED

Respond

  • Create a prioritized list of strains for recovery
  • Relocate surviving mice to a safe facility
  • Ship strains for cryopreservation if vivarium space is limited

Recover

  • Recover mice using genetically stable, well-defined, inbred mouse strains as oocyte donors
  • Ensure breeding can be done at an alternate location until your facilities are restored
  • Restore all mice to your facilities’ acceptable health statuses

Additional Resources:

NEW! Online Resource For COVID-19 Researchers
Mouse Genome Informatics, the international database resource for the laboratory mouse based at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), now offers a special, annotated information site about mice and genes relevant to coronavirus research.

hACE2 Transgenic Mouse Model for Corona Virus Research
Commonly used wild-type mouse strains are not optimal for studying infections of the newly discovered coronavirus. Fortunately, a transgenic model at JAX is now available to fill the unmet need for an in vivo experimental platform for COVID-19 research.

What are Coronaviruses and how do we develop new treatments?
Understanding SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and more

Contact JAX:

For additional inquiries, please contact: micetech@jax.org