In response to the global Coronavirus pandemic, a number of Societies involved in reproductive medicine, have issued statements on patient management and their clinical recommendations. Here, we focus on the latest COVID-19 updates from ASRM, ESHRE and BFS to provide an overview of current thinking. These organisations urge practitioners to stay up-to-date and to comply with their national public health recommendations with a particular duty to avoid any additional stress to healthcare systems, which in many places are already severely overloaded.

American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
Patient Management and Clinical Recommendations During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

17th March 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASRM recommendations’ include:-

  • Suspend initiation of new treatment cycles
  • Strongly consider cancellation of all embryo transfers, whether fresh or frozen
  • Continue to care for patients who are currently “in-cycle” or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation
  • Suspend elective surgeries

Download ASRM’s recommendations in full 

European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)
Conronavirus COVID-19: ESHRE statement on pregnancy and conception
19th March 2020

Due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, ESHRE recommends that all fertility patients considering or planning treatment, even if they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for Covid-19 infection, should avoid becoming pregnant. For those patients already having treatment, ESHRE suggests considering deferred pregnancy with oocyte or embryo freezing for later embryo transfer.
Read more

British Fertility Society (BFS)
The BFS issued their original guidance on 18th March, which should now be read alongside the open letter they issued on 23rd March.

An open letter to members of the British Fertility Society and the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and Persons Responsible for UK Licenced Fertility Services.
23rd March 2020

This letter outlines the rapidly changing situation and reaffirms their position on fertility treatments for the foreseeable future:-
“Given the daily escalation of restrictions on public movement and the increasing pressure on NHS facilities particularly in London and North West England, coupled with predictions that the crisis will continue to intensify for at least the next twelve weeks, the BFS and ARCS stand by their recommendations that centres in the UK work to cease treatments. We are however committed to review our guidance as the situation progresses, with reference to national advice and new evidence as it emerges and hope to work with colleagues over coming weeks and months to consider how and when best to resume normal activities.”
Read letter in full.

Guidance for the care of fertility patients during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
18th March
NB since issuing this guidance, the BFS have published the open letter (see above), which should be read alongside this original guidance published on 18th March

  • Whilst pregnant women can be generally reassured they are asked to consider themselves a vulnerable group
  • It is expected that UK licenced fertility centres will now be working to suspend treatments
  • UK fertility centres must establish the requirements to maintain a minimum service – this may include non-elective fertility preservation
  • Centres are expected to keep communication open with patients for advice and reassurance
  • Centres are expected to minimise their impact on NHS resources.

Read guidance in full.


Free webinar - setting up the ideal IVF laboratoryAs many people are currently working from home, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Marc van den Bergh has kindly offered to re-run his webinar series "Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory" for free.

The webinars take place on Wednesdays at 1-2pm BST (2-3 pm CET) and are repeated twice on Sundays: at 1-2pm BST and then again at 7-8pm BST from 25th March onwards. The course will cover a range of themes including the IVF lab environment, the best equipment and key performance indicators for the IVF Lab.

Attendees will receive certificates, which they can submit to try and obtain CPD credits from their professional body.

How to register
Just click the links below and complete the form to reserve your place.

#24938 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory  
Part 1: The environment

#24939 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory
Part 2: The best equipment
#24940 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory 
Part 3: The culture MEDIUM
#24941 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory 
Part 4: The culture conditions

#24942 Setting up the Ideal IVF laboratory
Part 5: Hygiene Sterility Disinfection

#24943 Setting up the ideal IVF laboratory 
Part 6: Key Performance Indicators for the IVF Lab

About Marc van den Bergh

Marc van den Bergh, is a certified senior clinical embryologist with over 20 years of experience. He founded the firm Quartec, which provides a range of consultancy services to assisted reproductive technology laboratories.
For further information, visit the Quartec website.

ESHRE logoWe hope everybody around the world is staying as safe as possible and our sympathies to those that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

We are very sorry to hear that many of the meetings that we, at Planer, had planned to attend have now been postponed or cancelled. However we hope, that once the pandemic has been brought under control, to see our customers, colleagues and friends again soon at one of the rearranged events or in Paris, next year, at ESHRE 2021.

ESHRE 2020 cancelled
ESHRE 2020 has been completely cancelled, with their next annual meeting planned for Sunday 27th June to Wednesday 30th June in Paris.

'It's an extremely disappointing decision to take,' said ESHRE Chair Cristina Magli, 'but we are all aware of the devastating effects of COVID-19. Prevention and protection must be our priorities. We did consider postponement, but this is an annual event attended by more than 10,000 people from all over the world. Postponement and re-arrangement were impossible.”

ESHRE is now looking at developing a virtual platform, to make all presentations available online. Therefore, if you were planning to submit an abstract, the review process will continue as usual.

For further information, visit the ESHRE website.

Aspire 2020
The April 2020 Aspire meeting in Manila has been postponed until August 2020. The Congress will now be held from Tuesday 4th August to Friday 7th August.
For further details, please visit the Aspire website.

ALPHA 2020
The biennial conference has been rescheduled to take place 29th October to 1st November in Seville. For more information, please visit the ALPHA website.

COVID-19 Update from Planer LtdThe global outbreak of Covid-19 is very serious and our sympathies go out to the families around the world that have been affected by this outbreak. We are also aware that many of our customers have concerns about shortages of the products and services that we manufacture and supply.

Since the initial outbreak, Planer has been closely monitoring the situation for potential impact to the supply of our products and have implemented strategies to ensure that we can continue to operate as close to normal as possible without increasing the risk to our employees or customers.

We have reduced staff on site through working from home policies and our manufacturing, shipping and service team continue to operate safely within the government guidelines with minimal disruptions. We are therefore in full operation should you have any service or order requirements. 

How to contact us
To reach the correct department as easily as possible please use the contact details below. 

Office main line number: 01932 755000
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.– for all technical support
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.- when placing an order
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - for general sales enquiries about our range of products

We will of course continue to monitor the advice from the World Health Organisation, the UK Government and Public Health England and keep you updated on any necessary changes to the way we operate. 

Adrian Fuller 
Managing Director

IVF CultureThere is only one thing that is truly important in an IVF laboratory: everything.

The report presents the outcomes from an international expert meeting to establish consensus guidelines on IVF culture, reviewing topics such as embryo culture; temperature; humidity; gas control; pH; workstations; incubators; micromanipulation; handling and assessment. In summary it says, "Clinical IVF has had a relatively unrestricted development over the past 40 years, with the result that there is now a plethora of permutations of laboratory culture systems. Some laboratories have retained aspects from the mid-1980s, while others are more likely to embrace change and adopt novel aspects of IVF culture as they are introduced."

Against this background, it is a challenge to identify and define what might constitute ‘best practice’ in the IVF laboratory. However, there are key physcochemical factors that affect oocytes and embryos in every IVF laboratory: temperature control, maintaining osmolarity and pH, and protection from oxidative stress and toxic substances, such as volatile organic compounds. The purpose of the consensus workshop, held at the UEARS 2018 conference (17–18 February 2018, Cairo, Egypt) was to define the technical and procedural requirements for an IVF laboratory’s culture system while taking these factors into account. The overarching goal of the workshop was to identify how best to operate to achieve best practice and to optimise the developmental competency of all gametes received and embryos obtained. 

The report develops an expert consensus opinion on the various options currently available for equipment and procedures and the criteria by which users can determine fitness for purpose within their own laboratories, and to identify areas for priority research to fill knowledge gaps. It was not the goal to define exactly what should – or should not – be done in the IVF laboratory, as these decisions must be taken in connection with local regulatory and licensing requirements.

Click the link below to download the full report
'There is only one thing that is truly important in an IVF laboratory: everything’. The Cairo Consensus Guidelines on IVF Culture Conditions. Read full report (Open Access)

Tri-Gas Mixer controller, suitable for all benchtop incubatorsWe are delighted to announce that Planer is now distributing worldwide the Okolab Tri-Gas Mixer, a controller that is designed to be compatible with every benchtop incubator.

The Tri-Gas Mixer is a digital CO2-O2 controller that mixes CO2, air and N2 to the desired concentration ranging between 0-10 % for both CO2 and O2, and at controlled pressure in the range of 0-2 barg (0-30 psig).

Delivery pressure is easily regulated by adjusting the knob of the embedded pressure gauge. The device is equipped with a mixing tank to ensure the highest composition stability even when the required output flow is variable.

Compatible with all benchtop incubators
The Tri-Gas Mixer is compatible with any benchtop incubator available on the market. Models are available with maximum output flow rate of 1.5 L/min and 15 L/min. The actual flow rate delivered automatically adjusts to match the requirements of the connected equipment.

  • Compatible with any benchtop incubator on the market, including our BT37 and CT37stax benchtop incubators 
  • Equipped with a mixing tank to ensure the highest composition stability 
  • Several incubators can be attached to a single Tri-Gas Mixer
  • Single point for gas mix validation and calibration 
  • Compatible with humidified incubators 
  • Advanced safety routines, so that the incubators always receive the correct gas 

Find out more
Visit our website
Download our Tri-Gas Mixer brochure

Geoffrey Planer

At the end of December 2019, following the acquisition of Planer by Hamilton Thorne Limited earlier in the year, Geoffrey Planer retired from his role as Chairman.

During his 45 years at the helm, Geoffrey led Planer to become an industry market leader, regarded by many as the “go-to” company for scientific and technical expertise when developing a new product or technique. Over the years, Planer equipment has been used in many notable scientific firsts — in 1984, the first baby born from a frozen embryo used a Planer controlled rate freezer. More recently, our freezers have been used in the significant advances made in ovarian tissue freezing.

Today, thanks to Geoffrey’s leadership and expertise over the past four decades, Planer is now a global brand, excelling in the design, manufacture, supply and support of medical products in the assisted reproduction, stem cell and cryopreservation markets.

I am sure many of you will have come into contact with Geoffrey at some point and will remember his friendly, warm manner and smiling face whenever you met him, either in Sunbury or at one our meetings around the world. 

Geoffrey will be greatly missed by everybody at Planer: many of the team worked with him for over 20 years. At our recent Christmas lunch, we were delighted to have the opportunity to make a presentation as a small token of our appreciation and to thank him personally for his support and encouragement over the past years.

I am sure you will join us all in wishing Geoffrey well in his retirement. I know his wife Jan is looking forward to having him at home for dinner before 8:30pm every day.

Geoffrey, Good Luck — and a huge thank you from all your colleagues and friends around the world.

Adrian Fuller
Managing Director

Currently 1.2 million patients are receiving treatment from regenerative medicine products produced by over 150 companies with a capital value of around $4.7 billion.  Most molecules, cells and tissues are collected at a given time and location for use at a later time. Therefore, our ability to stabilise biological properties (e.g. viability, biomarkers) during transportation and long-term storage is a critical technology.

"Preservation of cellular therapies" course 
The University of Minnesota Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR) will be running another of their successful "Preservation of cellular therapies" courses on 18th-19th May 2020. The programme will cover the fundamentals of preservation, protocol development, design of a storage facility, regulatory issues associated with preservation of cell therapies, clinical issues and more. Allison Hubel, (pictured here) PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Biopreservation Core Resource (BioCoR,, will be one of the programme lecturers.

Who should attend?
The course material is designed for those who have little experience with preservation, as well as those proficient in preservation who is interested in improving their practices. The preservation of cells has applications in the fields of recombinant cell biotechnology, cell banking, cell therapy, regenerative medicine and cell-based assays.

Lecture topics

  • Fundamentals of cryopreservation including mechanism of damage and strategies to prevent damaging cells during freezing, storage and warming
  • Step-by-step protocol development including methods by which to construct a new preservation protocol and debugging an old protocol that is no longer working well
  • Equipment, reagents and supplies used in preservation
  • The challenges in implementing preservation in a clinical/GMP environment
  • Fundamentals of quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) as well as application of the programme to preservation
  • Design and operation of a storage facility for cryopreserved cells
  • Regulatory issues associated with preservation of a therapeutic product
  • Emerging technology and approaches for the preservation of cells

Find out more
Preservation of cellular therapies" Course 18th-19th May 2020, Minnesota, USA


News Stories - 2019

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Contact Info

Planer Limited
110 Windmill Road
Middlesex, TW16 7HD
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 1932 755000