Impact on Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare System
Severe acute respiratory syndrome novel coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was emerged from Wuhan, China in December 2019 and declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) which designates this SARS-CoV-2 infection as novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 has spread across the globe infecting more than 150 million population leading to more than 3 lakh deaths. The impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare domain is huge and it has seriously disrupted the healthcare industry’s entire supply chain, from raw materials to manufacturing and delivery. The demand for medical ventilators has forced the producers to boost demand by up to 40 to 50% at the global level. In order to meet the increasing demand, producers have also cooperated with automakers. Governments and numerous organizations are deeply engaged in meeting the global situation, along with other industry personals. In order to address the consumer demands of medications, vaccines, diagnostics, and medical equipments such as ventilators, the leading personals are involved in research and development operations, strategic alliances and partnerships, and innovative product releases. No doubt, this is the first time in modern history that the diagnostics oriented industry has been in the absolute limelight. Suddenly, healthcare industry participants have switched from under the carpet to above the requirement of the carpet. The world has recognized the need for healthcare segment early warning systems, currently for COVID-19, but in the future, this pattern will continue for all types of diagnostics. Immense growth can be foreseen with respect to the diagnostics industry. The healthcare industry was not well prepared to tackle a public health crisis to this extent. In terms of regulations, risk control, technology, manufacturing, procurement, or supply chain management, the present state of affairs meant that certain business activities were not stringent enough. The immense degree of susceptibility of the sector can be attributed to an improper understanding of the way environment-related health hazards can affect business. The place of origin of the contagious virus was China, the epicentre of the worldwide healthcare supply chain, surgical equipments and drug processing. This led to a poor mix and resulted in the devastation of a crucial balance in the supply chain. The goal of most manufacturing firms during this crucial situation is to protect their staff along with other running operations. The staff is expected to cover themselves by wearing masks and thoroughly disinfecting themselves in order to achieve this goal. In countries such as China, which is now ready to restart its manufacturing unit, the government allows only those manufacturing firms with adequate face masks, along with other steps needed, for production. The need and accessibility of such goods are emerging as a result. Based on the sector, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the healthcare market is depicted in the following figure.
Impact of COVID–19 on Research
Prior to COVID-19, the impact on research in progress was rapid, dramatic, and long term. The pandemic curtailed most academic, industry, and government research related to basic science and clinical studies, or redirected the research to COVID-19. The pandemic situation pointed to the significance of research, stable research infrastructure, and funding for public health emergency (PHE)/disaster preparedness, response, and resiliency. COVID-19 has become an international emergency in a short period, and it will have long-lasting effects. There is a dire requirement to detect and analyze the spheres of academic research which will be affected by COVID-19. The major areas of research that are impacted by COVID-19 are depicted in the following figure.
- Vaccine Development
Development of various antibodies which provide immunity against COVID-19. Various research organizations and pharmaceutical companies have developed vaccines (like Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V) which have shown a good efficacy profile.
- Modern Drug Development
Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin have been claimed to be effective in the prevention and treatment, in some anecdotal case series and in-vitro. Certain antiretroviral drugs (used for the treatment of HIV) are being under clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19.
- Herbal Drug Development
Studies have shown the beneficial effects of many immunomodulatory plants like kalmegh and ashwagandha and their constituents inhibiting the interaction of the associated proteins involved in COVID-19 infection. Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. developed a formulation “Coronil” which might be helpful in combating COVID-19. Hence, there may be a huge success in the field of Indian traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda as well as pharmaceutical companies with the development of herbal industries.
- Industry 4.0
It is the fourth industrial revolution for advanced manufacturing and advanced technologies. It includes the scope for automation of tracking and analyzing COVID-19 patients. Additionally, it may include artificial intelligence-based technologies to identify patients’ data and geo-fencing proper tracking in addition to digital record keeping and analysis of health care management.
- Healthcare and Equipment
Research is going on for essential medical equipment like surgical masks, protective gears, sanitisers, ventilators, etc. There is a requirement of protective clothing (like PPE kit) that meets the required medical standards.
Hence, it is concluded that in spite of the deadly effect of COVID-19, there is a significant positive impact on the healthcare system, pharmaceutical industries and research in India and the whole world.
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