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As the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world, no industry has escaped since the outbreak of Coronavirus. It has affected the market in different ways and made a huge impact on healthcare supply chains worldwide. The dependence of the healthcare industry on foreign equipment suppliers has made it vulnerable to the risk of Coronavirus. With the current pandemic, supply chains are suffering great disruptions.
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Impact of Coronavirus on U.S. Health System
Shortage of Drug and Medical Devices
China ranks first among countries that export medical devices to the United States and second for drugs and biologics to the United States. Further economic shutdowns would hinder the production of battery-powered medical devices as China is the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals that include elements, the key to battery making.
Patient Safety: Product shortages and patient safety risks would further exacerbate due to travel limitations and safety concerns as regular inspections of drug and medical supply would not be possible as manufacturing sites are located in China.
Disruption in Supply Chain: The healthcare industry would likely to face supply chain disruption in the upcoming years. The growing practice of offshoring certain operations such as billing, HR or clinical procedures notably to companies located in India, China and Vietnam, could negatively get affected both financially and operationally, as international vendors have stopped operations due to travel restrictions.
COVID-19 Outbreak and Medical Tourism: More than 70 governments have banned entry to travelers who have been to the affected regions, barring flights to certain countries, recommending citizens not to travel to other countries due to virus fear would definitely hit medical tourism hard. Hospitals and clinics that are heavily dependent on medical tourism may struggle or even close due to travel restrictions. Medical tourism agencies will lose business and may not open in the near future.
Healthcare Equities Have Been Spared the Worst So Far
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus across the globe prodded the pharmaceutical industry to pull together and make an endeavor to stop a pandemic in its tracks. Companies with better product governance scores will be able to navigate the complex regulatory and stakeholder pressures which are expected to intensify as the companies are racing towards developing vaccines and treatments to fight novel Coronavirus.
Pfizer: Pfizer and BioNTech have collaborated, regarding the co-development and distribution of potential m-RNA- based Coronavirus vaccine to prevent COVID_19 infection. BNT162- potential first-in-class COVID-19 mRNA vaccine program by BioNTech is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of April 2020.
GSK: GSK has made vaccine adjuvant technology available to scientists and organizations working on promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates and technology platforms besides collaborating with the University of Queensland, Clover biopharmaceuticals and Xiamen Innovax Biotech Co., Ltd. For an eventual vaccine, GSK is also exploring options to share available manufacturing capacity and production.
Sanofi: For novel Coronavirus vaccine development, Sanofi entered into a partnership with the United States Government ‘s Biomedical advanced research and Development Authority (BARDA). Besides that Sanofi is supporting clinical trials to determine whether two of its existing medicines as potential treatments for COVID-19 can help patients with COVID-19. One option is currently being tested in patients with severe COVID-19 in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Russia and Canada and second for patients in the US. Sanofi Pasteur launched two collaborations, one with Translate Bio and another with Biomedical Advanced Research to pursue two different, innovative approaches to develop a safe and effective vaccine as quickly as possible.
Johnson & Johnson: Johnson & Johnson entered a landmark new partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Together they committed more than $1billion to novel Coronavirus vaccine research and development. Furthermore, Johnson& Johnson is expanding the company’s global manufacturing capacity and scaling up capacity in other countries as well. It is also expecting to initiate human clinical studies of its lead vaccine candidate by September 2020.
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Moderna: According to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel mRNA-1273 vaccine against COVID-19 is less likely to be commercially available, but under emergency, the vaccine could be available to some people including healthcare professionals and the company is expanding its manufacturing capacity, to make millions of doses of the vaccine each month.