The Committee on Biological Agents (ABAS) has classified the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen as risk group 3 and protection level 2 (resolution 1/2020 dated 19 February 2020, last updated on 1 Ovtober). There are currently no specific official recommendations for activities at biobanks. Hence the German Biobank Node (GBN) and German Biobank Alliance (GBA) are following the ABAS recommendation on safety measures during sampling and diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 (resolution 6/2020 dated 1 October 2020). GBN has also interviewed a number of biosafety officers at various sites in Germany on the subject.
According to the ABAS, non-targeted activities for laboratory diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 – based on biological specimens (e.g. sample preparation and processing, and virus inactivation for molecular biology techniques, PCR) – can be performed under protection level 2 conditions.
BioStoffV identifies a total of four protection levels to which activities involving biological agents from the various risk groups are assigned. The regulations are referred to as levels, as the regulations for the lower protection levels also apply to the higher ones – so in this case, the regulations of levels 1 and 2 are relevant. These relate to constructional, technical and organisational measures as well as to employees’ personal protective equipment. The Technical Rules for Biological Agents TRBA 100 (5) and TRBA 250 (4) inform on the requirements for these protection levels.
In the following presentations, Bettina Meinung (QM Core Team, GBN) and Dr. Jörg Schibel (Biosafety Officer, University Hospital Tübingen) outline the recommendations and regulations, and discuss their implementation by biobanks. Meinung and Schibel gave these presentations during a GBN webinar on handling infectious samples held on 29 April 2020. See here for the full webinar documentation.