June 12, 2020

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has revealed unexpected phenomena which are likely to determine the resilience and agility of the supply chain of Life Sciences in the near future. These factors stem from changes occurring in global healthcare and the war being waged to defeat the invisible enemy. Healthcare will never be the same as before, it will be considerably better.

THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY: The unprecedented, uncontrolled spread of the Coronavirus shocked the world to accept how inter-connected and inter-dependent human beings truly are and that no physical boundary or shield can prevent the spread of a pandemic. As a result, supply chains must remain global and not be constrained by national boundaries.

SUPPLY CHAIN COLLOQUI: The unavailability of adequate PPE, ventilators and medical supplies highlighted the journey they take from sources in remote countries to where they were needed. The path undertaken by the products came to be known as the Supply Chain. This word of Supply Chain has been uttered nearly as often as COVID has. People have come to realize that every link of the supply chain is critical to saving human lives where a problem can be best analyzed and solved with a holistic supply chain perspective. Corporations have elevated supply chain management to the C-Suite for strategic decision making. Supply chain management raises the tide so that all boats can be lifted.

VISIBILITY & DATA MODELIING: Visibility of the infected patients across the globe, emanating from China to Italy to USA and other countries, became the most reassuring intelligence in the war on the pandemic. Information of patients’ infections, treatments and deaths; inventory of products, supplies and assets; and modal capacities of transportation networks; have driven life-saving actions in supply chain management. Data modeling of infection in the epidemiological framework has served as the compass for strategy development and operational planning of remedial actions taken.

EXPONENTIAL GROWTH PHENOMENON: The rate of infection and deaths from the Coronavirus gave the expression “exponential growth” clear meaning for everyone.

HEROES OF THE WAR ON COVID-19: First responders surfaced as the Heroes of healthcare as they were asked to be in harm’s way in the hospitals. Their safety and wellbeing are at the nexus of a healthcare program. Every organization has deemed employee safety to be of the highest priority.

DIGITALIZATION: The current supply chain is broken and not designed to overcome unprecedented demand surges and informational handicaps of disparate suppliers and customers. Preliminary digitization of transactions and digitalization of the supply chain have produced greater collaboration, real time responsiveness and overall efficiency.

WORK AT HOME: Work at home has yielded increased productivity and job satisfaction while shattering the premise that it was a benevolent idea for professional women. Virtual Reality is a welcome aspect of work where Zoom conference calls have brought the distance near and enabled global communication. Professionals are overworked and will need relief while 50% of offices may be eliminated.

INTRINSIC HEALTHCARE DISPARITY: The realization that Healthcare is broken, services are woefully lacking, and the poor minorities are disproportionately under served, is alarming for the most affluent nation in the world. Black, Latino and Pacific Islander residents of los Angeles were reported to be twice as likely to have died of COVID-19 than white residents. This is a troubling sign of what institutional racism and inequality have played in the uneven spread of the pandemic.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION: In the context of no available cure and vaccine for COVID-19, every link of the healthcare supply chain, from R&D for drug development to its delivery to a patient, has come to realize the super-ordinate goal of saving human lives. Consequently, the traditional process of drug development with long lead times and high costs is deemed to be unacceptable for industry and government alike. Under a plan, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, the federal government has invested heavily in several vaccine efforts and is streamlining FDA’s drug approval protocol.

CONTACT TRACING: Apple and Google have joined forces to create an anonymous, voluntary notification app, allowing health authorities to alert those who may have been exposed to the virus.

NON-EXISTENT SELF RELIANCE FOR APIs: About 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used to make drugs in the United States is said to come from China and other countries like India. While companies in China are diversifying their manufacturing outside the country, companies in USA are gearing up for greater inshore capacity.

UNPRECEDENTED INSIGHT: The gradual reopening of the economy will enable data researchers to analyze pollution, accident deaths, to name a few outcomes, in terms of auto traffic by geographical entity. A deeper understanding of the causal factors will emerge.

HUMAN-CREATED POLLUTION:  In early April 2020, smoggy Los Angeles had the cleanest air of any major city on Earth, according to IQAir, a tech company that tracks global air quality. As humans continue to stay indoors under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Earth is slowly healing. Wild animals have taken to roaming the streets, clear waters have returned to the Venice canals and the world is literally shaking less. Pandemic lockdowns have resulted in a clearer Earth.

ECONOMIC PAIN: Hospitals and doctors have lost billions in revenue when they had to cancel elective surgeries and non-emergency procedures. The high margin healthcare services have been reduced drastically to wreak havoc on the revenue of hospitals and clinics.

HIGHER COST OF GOODS: China has long been the dominant and low-cost supplier in global manufacturing and trade. Any major shift away from there will reduce profits and raise process for retailers and consumers.

These are a few observed outcomes to be processed in what is going to be a very complex but extremely worthwhile betterment of healthcare.

Article submitted by Devendra Mishra, Executive Director & Co-Founder, BSMA, 6/10/2020