In Germany, the Deutsche Bahn (DB) Medibuses, built by VDL Bus & Coach, are currently being used in a large-scale study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) into the spread of COVID-19. By using the Medibuses, researchers and physicians have access to high-quality laboratory environments, which can also be flexibly deployed in different locations.
The main objectives of the so-called ‘Corona-Monitoring lokal’ study are to map the spread of the virus and to obtain a more complete picture of the number of unreported coronavirus cases. A total of 8,000 citizens from four different areas of Germany are being monitored.
The village of Kupferzell, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, is the first research site that the RKI arrived at with the Medibus. A church concert was held here at the beginning of March, during which 82 people became infected with Coronavirus. Because of this outbreak, Kupferzell instantly became one of Germany’s Coronavirus hotspots. 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 symptoms. A Coronavirus test is therefore being performed on 2000 residents. Blood samples are also taken and the residents are asked for their medical history and social contacts. Participation in the study is entirely voluntary.
In addition to the 2000 residents of Kupferzell, thousands of people from three other areas affected by Coronavirus are also being monitored. These areas are selected on the basis of the latest situation just before the start of the local research. During these various local studies, the Medibuses function as mobile research centres equipped with all conveniences.
The Citea LLE-127 Medibuses for Deutsche Bahn were built by VDL Bus Venlo in cooperation with VDL Bus Heerenveen and VDL Bus Chassis. The bus has been converted into a doctor’s 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 so that the bus is less dependent on external power on location.
In October 2019, the DB Medibus won the prestigious German Mobility Award. With its 12.7 metre-long medical practice, Deutsche Bahn is making an innovative contribution to the improvement of the medical infrastructure in Germany. Initially, the DB Medibus was used for medical care in rural areas. In the meantime, numerous applications have demonstrated that the bus can also be used for many other purposes within the healthcare sector.