COVID 19: Repercussion and Redemption for the Life Sciences Industry

Lessons learned across the life sciences

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While Covid-19 continues to transform daily reality with new revelations every day, the life sciences industries have been adapting at a breakneck pace, initially to support the global response in the early days of the outbreak and now to point the way towards long-term recovery. However, if not for anything, the pandemic has taught all the industries a lesson or two and life sciences was no exception. This pandemic was a boon and curse to the life sciences teaching critical lessons in the long run. From medical device firms and drug developers to clinical research organizations and healthcare data specialists, what can we all take away from the world’s pandemic year?

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 The life sciences industry in the UAE and the region actively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented situation. Globally, the sector was and is still collectively working on developing vaccines and treatments and ramping up the production of new diagnostic devices, ventilators and pumps. More often than not, vaccines and antivirals take time to move through trial phases before ultimately being approved by regulatory bodies, but with the spread of pandemic with a speed of fire, the R & D of life sciences paced up too. These vaccines would provide a critical element in the armamentarium against COVID-19. As the industry moves slowly into the recovery and thriving phase, a central challenge for all these innovations will be rapidly scaling up production to meet the colossal global needs.

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The consumer health divisions of life sciences companies are already seeing an unmatchable demand in over-the-counter” (OTC) medications and sanitizing products as consumers are stocking these up well in advance. There may well be an impact as consumer interest rises in products that support well-being, hygiene, and health in the longer term. In most parts of the world, a healthy lifestyle started to remain a top priority for consumers, even more being conscious of hygiene and healthy eating to the extent of now adopting technology-enabled innovative health.

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For example, Neilsen’s recent survey of the Chinese mainland found that 90%, 93%, and 77% of consumers respondents have already purchased or plan to buy air purifiers, water purifiers, or smart fitness bracelets, respectively. During this period, there is likely to be a noticeable shift in customer purchase behavior as online shopping becomes the main channel for businesses to sell their products, towards which the life sciences industry is making its way as well.

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 As the world attempts to recover and return to a post-COVID normal, we anticipate the most significant impacts for the life sciences industry will be evident through the following:

  1. Disruption in the manufacturing and supply chain sector
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There will be a massive shift in developing more robust supply sources with close monitoring of the impact of pharmaceutical supply shortage.

2. The new boom in digital technologies

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Billions of investments in technology and AI will lead to the true digitization of the value chain. In addition, R & D, through commercialization and inclusion of omnichannel marketing, will positively impact drug discovery, digital clinical trials and interaction with healthcare professionals.  

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Globalization has worked at one level, but Covid-19 has alarmed the fact that it can all collapse if our suppliers are from one place only and their production goes down. Moreover, it is next to impossible to kickstart an industry from scratch to replace that when the expertise and resources aren’t available domestically. Therefore, to prepare for a future pandemic that is almost certain to arrive – sooner or later – governments must consider their own domestic manufacturing bases with R & D and essential equipment to flourish the advancement and smoothen the adversities.

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