Covid-19 pandemic may last another year or more, experts believe
By Peter R. Orszag, David Gluckman, Stephen H. Sands
Despite the intensive focus, investment and collaboration across the biopharmaceutical industry, including in new technologies (mRNA, for example) that may speed up development timelines, there are scientific and technical obstacles to creating Covid-19 vaccines, as well as manufacturing and logistical challenges.
Such roadblocks explain why biopharma companies have developed only seven truly novel vaccines in the past 25 years.
Most health care leaders also believe it may very well be more than a year or two before there is an effective Covid-19 treatment - if one ever materializes. Indeed, only 49 percent of health care industry leaders put the likelihood of such a therapeutic at better than even.
Consequently, two-thirds of industry leaders expect the pandemic to continue into the second half of 2021 or beyond - a notably longer time frame than that envisioned by many people in government.
The danger is that US federal fiscal support will be withdrawn before the pandemic is actually over, and then the underlying economic damage will become more visible.
After the pandemic, the industry leaders expect to see a significant acceleration of many earlier trends in health care, especially the more efficient delivery of care to patients.
They expect to see much greater use of virtual medicine, remote patient monitoring, and care in the home and other alternative places. Executives are also concerned about nationalism, protectionism and the need to secure domestic supply chains.
Most important, however, is their expectation that the world will remain in the grip of the pandemic for at least another year.
No one group of people has perfect foresight, but as governments consider the path ahead, they would be foolish to ignore what leaders in the trenches of health care expect to occur.