Deutsche Bahn’s Medibuses are currently being used in a large-scale study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) into the COVID-19 distribution in Germany. By using the Medibuses, researchers and physicians have access to high-quality laboratory environments, which can also be flexibly deployed at various locations. The buses were built by VDL Bus & Coach.
The main objectives of the so-called ‘Corona-Monitoring local’ study are to map the virus spread and to obtain a more complete picture of the number of unreported coronary events. A total of 8,000 citizens from four different areas in Germany are investigated.
“The DB Medibus is a cross-company joint project made possible by the expertise and involvement of our partners Cisco and VDL,” says Felix Thielmann, Branch Manager Replacement Transport at Deutsche Bahn. “We are very pleased that our Medibus with its equipment and technical functionalities is currently able to make an active contribution to the research for the distribution of COVID-19 in Germany,” adds Arndt Hecker, Business Development Manager at Deutsche Bahn.
VDL is also pleased with the special deployment of the buses. “As a manufacturer, we greatly welcome the fact that Deutsche Bahn’s Medibuses are now also being used in the fight against corona,” says Mark Francot, managing director of VDL Bus Venlo. “The fact that we can contribute to research into COVID-19, thanks to good cooperation between several companies, makes us very proud. This project also confirms the multi-deployability of this innovative vehicle. The Medibus, therefore, fits perfectly within our Special Vehicles department.”
Research in COVID-19 areas
The village of Kupferzell, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, is the first research site where the RKI landed with the Medibus. A church concert took place here at the beginning of March, during which 82 people became infected with the coronavirus. Because of this outbreak, Kupferzell became one of the corona hotbeds of Germany. The RKI is now investigating, among other things, how many inhabitants of the village have built up antibodies against the virus and how many of them have been infected without developing any complaints. A coronary test is therefore taken from 2,000 inhabitants. Blood is also taken and asked for their medical history and social contacts. Participation in the test is voluntary.
In addition to the inhabitants of Kupferzell, thousands of people from three other areas affected by corona will also be examined. Which areas are affected will be determined on the basis of the most current situation just before the local survey starts. During these various local studies, the Medibuses function as mobile research centers equipped with all conveniences.
A fully-fledged medical practice
The Medibuses for Deutsche Bahn were built as a medical practice in which the 4 rooms (treatment room, consultation room, laboratory, and waiting room) are equipped with cupboards and furniture. Each room also has its own air conditioning and solar panels on the roof provide clean energy, making the bus less dependent on external power on location.
In October 2019, the DB Medibus won the German Mobility Award. This prize is awarded annually to projects that make a significant contribution to participation and quality of life in Germany. With its 12.7-meter-long medical practice, Deutsche Bahn is making an innovative contribution to the improvement of the medical infrastructure in Germany. Initially, DB Medibus was used for medical care in rural areas. In the meantime, numerous application possibilities prove that the bus can also be used for many other purposes within the healthcare sector.