PIR International approached a range of BioLeaders for their thoughts on the current pandemic; with the benefit of their sector experience, their comments offer insights for the industry and policy makers; and practical thoughts on what individual companies are doing to ensure operational protocols are adjusted to continue to meet milestones.
‘Historically, I feel that the Life Sciences industry has placed great focus on oncology therapeutics and tackling inherited or lifestyle diseases that are highly prevalent in wealthier nations. Too often infectious diseases have been viewed as a problem largely confined to developing nations and therefore companies with solutions in this space may have experienced greater challenges when fundraising.
The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted that we should also increase our support for companies developing the next generation of diagnostic tests (with particular emphasis on early detection and easy access), telemedicine platforms for remote care, anti-infectives and innovative life support devices and personal protective equipment.
Importantly, investors, governments and charities must continue to provide funds that will drive the translation of more early-stage innovations into the clinic even during these uncertain times.’
‘For me, it is all about finding a sustainable path through the crisis. We don’t have to worry about clinical trials given our stage, so the biggest impact is on experimental work and there the question is how to get maximum experimental productivity while maintaining employee safety. At this point, we are running a shift system which is sustaining at least 50% experimental productivity.
In order to increase this productivity one of three things needs to happen a) we reconfigure our space to enable more employees on site i.e. convert office to lab b) the infection rate reduces sufficiently to forego social distancing or c) we find other ways (beyond social distancing) to reduce risk e.g. internal testing. In the spirit of ‘control the controllables’ – I am currently focused on a) and c)!’
‘This has many parallels to the HIV crisis which I encountered during my PhD at Birmingham. From this I learned how to find opportunities during adversity; through developing technical solutions, volunteering, repurposing products. Whilst Covid is certainly impacting our social texture, I strongly believe it brings out the best in many of us and encourages us to adapt.’