The most severe impact of COVID-19 is on the supply chain of the healthcare industry. The procurement of raw materials to production and distribution and surveys reveal that the overall impact is going to be huge. According to Benjamin Gordon of Palm Beach,to cater to the current needs of drugs, vaccines, medical devices like ventilators and diagnostics, the key players, together with various associations and governments, are concentrating on strategic partnerships, collaborations, research and development activities, and new product launches.
The demand for ventilators has shot and has compelled manufacturers to increase their production by 40% to 50%. To meet the unprecedented production load, ventilator manufacturers are even collaborating with automakers who do not have any demand for manufacturing automobiles. This is proving to be win-win for both.
Benjamin Gordon of Palm Beach explains the new collaboration
The strategic partnership between Ford Motors and GE Healthcare is one of its kinds. As per the terms of the agreement, GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise and license the current ventilator design from a US-based privately held company Airon Corporation. It specializes in high-tech pneumatic life-saving products while Ford Motors will use its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale up the production.
Let us now investigate the impact on various market segments of the medical devices/ equipment and diagnostics.
Medical devices and equipment segment
Ventilators – The segment consists of ventilators, masks, hospital beds, personal protective equipment, nurse call systems, and sanitation. Currently, 182,700 ventilators in the US include 12,700 in the inventory of National Strategic Supply maintained by the federal government. To respond to national emergencies, in the coming months, the market of ventilators is expected to grow more than35%. New players are manufacturing ventilators to meet the rising demand by taking advantage of relaxed regulation.
Masks – The demand for masks and personal protective equipment has grown exponentially due to the pandemic, and WHO has called to increase mask production by 40% to cater to the demand of 89 million masks every month for the frontline medical workers. China that used to supply 50% of the world’s mask requirement before the pandemic, has increased the production capacity to 100 million units per month, and the target for N95 masks is 1.6 million units per month.
Analyzers, reagents, kits, and consumables – There is a phenomenal increase in demand for test kits over the past few months. Several companies have increased their production capacities to meet the global demand. The companies are also new affordable raid test kits with faster turnaround times. Some companies are even launching test kits for use at homes.
Vaccines and drugs – Several companies worldwide are striving hard to advance the potential vaccines or therapeutics and work towards meeting the deadline to make the vaccine available by the year-end or early 2021.
At the same time, countries are re-purposing various anti-viral drugs like Remdesivir and steroids like Dexamethasone to treat other diseases that can be useful for treating COVID19.