A Clinical-Grade Mobile Solution

How CVS and NORR are Converting Shipping Containers into Vaccine Trial Annexes 

CVS Shipping Container Project

As a healthcare innovation company, CVS is always searching for ways to help the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19. Addressing the need for more clinical vaccine trials, CVS required a mobile solution that was separate from its retail stores. A collaboration with NORR resulted in the repurposing of shipping containers to a clinical-grade space to conduct the trials. This mobile space facilitated a safe environment where a nurse practitioner and patient could come together to advance the clinical trials.

We look at how this innovative design solution was developed in such a short time frame.

Design Features

At 142 square feet, the containers have enough room for a nurse practitioner as well as a patient, separated by an acrylic shield and washable vinyl pull-across screen. There is a complete HVAC system complete with HEPA and MERV filtration and bipolar ionization units to reduce the risk of infectious aerosols. The unit is also complete with a water filtration system that supports three days worth of potable water for handwashing. There is also a separate area for the nurse practitioner to take on and off any protective equipment, allowing for a clinical-grade trial experience in the space of a shipping container.

Design Challenges

Response time is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. There was a two-week window to work with the fabricators and at least a dozen vendors worked collaboratively to repurpose the containers and design them for specific transportation standards. Nothing could protrude more than eight inches, requiring NORR and CVS to collaborate in real-time to discover practical design solutions. The elements also needed to be as mobile as possible, to ensure the annexes could be moved to places of need safely and quickly.

Reusable Future Purpose

CVS aligns with pharma partners and local physicians to service patients in local jurisdictions. Currently, two of five containers are in use in Charlotte, NC and Runnemede, NJ – with a third site planned in Seal Beach, CA. There are also two more units ready to be deployed. The clinical trial annexes can be repurposed and rolled out for other health emergencies across the United States and other rapid-response disaster relief efforts. The mobile nature of the unit coupled with clinical-grade systems and environment allows for endless possibilities.

As COVID-19 and its variants have become the most critical challenge of the century, NORR is proud to be supporting CVS as its prototype architect on these urgent and technologically advanced projects.

CVS Shipping Container Project