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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and The Life Sciences Industry

*The outbreak is moving quickly, and so perspectives in this blog may fall rapidly out of date*


COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

We intend to disrupt the current focus surrounding COVID-19 from, “what’s up (a pandemic)” and the “so what (a lockdown)” to “what now (the practical impacts and solutions)”. This post looks at the overall impact of COVID-19 on our economy (all sectors), including the life science industry, listing some of the associated risks. It finishes with how Wenite aims to continue meeting its mission during this time.


The Economy & Sector Impacts

Global shares have taken a hit - the Dow and the FTSE recently saw their biggest one day decline since 1987. As seen on Deloitte ‘Coronavirus heatmap’ with Denmark as an example, the COVID-19 pandemic, will impact the life sciences industry. However, it also presents the industry with an opportunity to capitalise on rapid research and product development.


COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and The Life Sciences Industry

Life Science studies life in all its forms, past and present. This can include; plants, animals, viruses & bacteria, single-celled organisms, & cells - it is an enormous field of study. Businesses involved in the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization are categorized as part of the Life Science Industry. These businesses are understandably at the forefront of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They have held up relatively well as the sectors are less exposed to a near-term contraction in consumer spending. The challenges are increasing for these companies, with some of the effects being immediate and others, in the future. In summary, there are 3 main areas of risk to consider:


Supply Chain

  • Shortages of materials or finished goods (Medicines, Medical Devices, Medical Safety Equipment & Biocides) coming from or routed through logistical hubs in impacted areas

  • Potential labour shortages through illness or mobility restrictions

  • Potential blockages & capacity issues along transport networks

Insurance

  • Insurance policies may not cover a business interruption crisis such as the current pandemic, which was unlikely, because they cover diseases only to the extent specified in the policy at inception

  • The UK government, listed COVID-19 as a notifiable disease on 05Mar2020 however, policies may include waiting time/limitations in duration to any notifiable disease

Research and Development (R&D)

  • Research is phase 3 of the UK Government's Coronavirus Action Plan

  • Clinical Trials and Digital Health include projects to develop vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, or to address the epidemiology, spread or underpinning knowledge of COVID-19

  • Due to the unknown nature of COVID-19, there is likely to be ongoing long-term research in this area in addition to those which are currently rapidly moving

  • Collaboration. Examples include; GSK collaborating with Sanofi to create a vaccine, and with AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge to help the UK government hit its ambitious testing target. Novartis and a consortium of Life Sciences companies (Bristol-Myers Squibb, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer) are collaborating to share existing knowledge of compounds that already have supporting safety data in order to fast track potential clinical trials. A risk for potential issues may arise for companies working collaboratively

  • With the immediate focus of R&D being the prioritisation of any COVID-19 related activity, vaccines and testing kits - there will likely be a delay to drug launches as a result of, delays in enrolment to trials, difficulties in retaining ongoing trial participants because of the lockdown.

  • Travel restrictions increase remote healthcare support through telemedicine, wearable devices, provision of health data as well as lax regulations of remote medical services and monitoring tools by national authorities.

  • Innovative collaborations such as the development of the life-saving breathing aids ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)’ by UCL, UCLH and Formula One

It seems that, as time goes on, smaller companies, in particular, those operating in areas unrelated to COVID-19, may suffer.


So What Now?

Wenite’s priority has always been to contribute intelligence through resources to help people associated with STEM, specifically scientists, either by background or profession to map their potential career pathway, through examples of people in the jobs. Many scientists, and organizations, have covered and are continuing to cover, much of what COVID-19 is (what’s up) and are giving regular updates on the pandemic effects on health and solutions i.e. testing kits and vaccines (so what), therefore, we hope to “adapt” our resources by taking you through a series consisting of “The Impact of COVID-19 on STEM careers, categorised by our overarching target audiences of: Students, Graduates and Professionals”. Different activities related to this initiative will be covered across our various social media platforms, so make sure you are following us on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn!





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