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What’s ahead for the life sciences industry this year?

Janis Slisans our consultant managing the role
Posted by Janis Slisans
Published on 15 September 2020
The global life sciences industry has been turned on its head this year, and Covid-19 looks set to continue to have an impact for months – and maybe years – to come. However, the pandemic isn’t the only thing making its mark on life sciences. We’re looking at what changes and developments we can expect to see within the industry in the coming months.

How is Covid-19 impacting the life sciences industry?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the life sciences market, with the most significant change being the pivot many organisations have made to identifying, testing and producing vaccines and treatments for the virus. Big pharma companies have joined forces to work towards a cure, creating unprecedented collaboration and cohesion in the highly competitive pharmaceuticals market. However, the all-encompassing focus on the pandemic has meant a lack of attention to other areas, as elective procedures have been delayed and resources have been reallocated. Areas such as orthopaedics and robotics have seen temporary slowdown, while we’ve also seen the supply and demand of pharmaceuticals affected by the virus. More flexible life science solutions such as telehealth and self-administered therapies have been in high demand during lockdown and we can expect to see this continue even as normality returns.

Although Covid-19 has had a negative impact on many industries, the global life science product market is still expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6% during 2020-2027, expanding from USD 2.21 billion in 2019 to USD 4.47 billion in 2027. Investment in R&D in Asia-Pacific is expected to contribute significantly to this growth, as well as government initiatives such as biotechnology company tax exemptions.

What do the warmer months mean for Covid-19?

There has been much debate around whether warmer weather could slow or stop the spread of Covid-19. As the northern hemisphere has transitioned into summer, there have been hopes that Covid-19 would follow the seasonal pattern of other respiratory infections. Influenza, for example, peaks in the winter months, as does the common cold. Research from the University of Maryland’s Institute of Virology suggests the virus doesn’t spread as readily between people in warmer climates, while Chinese research shows that high temperatures and humidity reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. Indoor heating during winter may contribute to the spread of disease as it dries out the protective mucus barrier within the nose, while warmer weather typically means people spend more time outside and away from others. 

While seasonality may have a role to play in Covid-19 over the coming months, it must be noted that this is a novel virus that life science professionals are still learning about. Human behaviour and ongoing research into prevention and cure remain the most pressing matters in the fight against Covid-19. 

Preparing for the months to come

While summer may spell a slowdown in the spread of Covid-19, there are warnings that the northern hemisphere must now prepare for what winter may bring. The Academy of Medical Sciences has stated that intense preparation is required throughout August to reduce the risk of health services being overwhelmed as the weather cools down. We’ll likely see a backlog of people requiring NHS assessment and treatment, as well as the usual winter spikes in influenza, asthma and other conditions. 

As a result of Covid-19, we may see updated regulatory pathways within life sciences as clinical trials experience a shift in how they are designed, run and conducted. As innovation and speed to market have been such key components of the quest for a vaccine, a revision of regulatory frameworks may be something we see more long-term in the industry. There may also be increased M&A activity as cash-rich pharma organisations take advantage of decreasing market caps. Hopefully, we will see continued investment in life science real estate, research, facilities and services as part of the government's plans to cement the UK as the world’s leading research and science superpower. The Research and Development Roadmap promises ground-breaking research, more global talent attraction and the removal of unnecessary red tape to help power up the nation’s economic recovery, all of which should bolster jobs in this sector. 

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At Quanta, we have nearly two decades of experience in providing staffing support to the global life sciences sector. We operate in markets all over the world, with a deep understanding of current industry trends and relationships with biopharmaceutical and pharmaceuticals organisations globally. Find your next life sciences job or view our blogs to get more insights on the market.