ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE/ HEALTH
Topic: General Studies 2,3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
- Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors
COVID-19: An opportunity to Biomedical Industry
Context: As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks economy, there is enhanced focus on health & biomedical sector, where every country is trying to strengthen its indigenous capacity.
Did You Know?
- In India, presently, a third of all authorised testing labs are concentrated in three states
- US is aiming for a million daily tests. Germany already has walk-in test centres.
Why universal testing is necessary?
- To contain pandemic: The virus currently has no effective treatment and a safe vaccine is possibly a year away, thus testing is needed to contain the pandemic
- To restart Economy: The main driver of increased COVID testing globally is the need to make people safe so that they begin to engage in market activities.
- To attract investment: Global investment destinations will be influenced by the relative reputation of national testing protocols.
- Moreover, recovery from infection doesn’t guarantee immunity from future infection. Hence the necessity of multiple and regular testing of workers is needed to protect workplaces
Scope for Biomedical Industry to expand
- Potential for Testing industry: If one only targets urban workers in India, there will be a testing pool of approximately 200 million people.
- Decentralisation: In India, the number of labs that can test for the virus needs to be increased to at least 2,000 with each lab having the capacity to test 5,000 samples a day. Also, labs need to be spread across country to ensure timely results.
- Scope for Biomedical R&D: India needs to incentivise its universities, research laboratories and biomedical supply chains to develop cheaper and faster testing methods
- Employment benefits: Massive testing requires hiring of testers, transporters and contact tracers thus increasing labour demand leading to job opportunities
- Export Potential: Massive testing will likely be a worldwide phenomenon over the next year or two. Consequently, world demand for testing kits will explode.
- MSME boost: Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) can be manufactured by MSMEs at a much cheaper cost provided they are provided adequate governmental support
- Complements India’s pharmaceutical Sector: India is already a leading player in global pharmaceutical market. Enhanced strength in biomedical field will make India a strong player in overall Health Sector
The pandemic could do for the biomedical industry what the Y2K scare did for the Indian IT sector. India needs to give an unambiguous signal to its entrepreneurs about the centrality of this mission
Connecting the dots:
- Medical devices parks in India
- Generic Medicines and India’s provision of compulsory licensing