Lack of preparation is biggest failure: Leading US scientist on Covid-19
Describing COVID-19 as the worst health crisis in recent memory, a US scientist heading the research wing of one of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies said the lack of preparedness was the “biggest failure “of the collective ecosystem.
“I don’t want to point the finger at anyone. In some ways, this is a collective failure of our system. (Although) this is the greatest success of our ecosystem, our response to COVID-19 you could say, it is is also perhaps the biggest failure of our collective ecosystem, which was our lack of preparation, ”Dr. Andrew Plump, president of R&D, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, told PTI in an interview.
“COVID-19 is the worst health crisis of our generation or the generation before us. It has been a travesty. It is horrible what happened across the world,” Dr Plump said ahead of the 15th summit India-US annual biopharmacy and health in June. 22, organized by the United States Chamber of Commerce in India (USAIC) based in Boston.
However, there are positive sides and there are certainly some learnings that can be advanced, he noted.
“I think the most important learning is, let’s stop being fooled by history. History predicted it. We knew we were going to have a pandemic and in fact, we were lucky this time around. “In some ways. Despite the massive casualties it could have been, it could have been a lot worse,” Dr. Plump said.
In a recent editorial, he wrote that although the COVID-19 pandemic has been a human and health catastrophe, by scientific measures the world has been lucky this time.
“COVID-19 was much less deadly than its predecessors, less contagious than previous pandemic viruses, and we were able to quickly develop a framework of effective vaccines. But luck is not a strategy,” he wrote in an editorial at STAT.
Co-founder of the Covid R&D Alliance, which was formed last year, Dr Plump argued that a pandemic must be given the same importance and priority by the government that it places on defense.
“The challenge with pandemics is that we think we can’t see the enemy, so we don’t even know where to start and therefore we don’t do anything. But that’s a mistake. We know the enemy,” he said, adding that science has advanced so much that eight or nine times out of 10 and they can project themselves.
“With 80-90% confidence, we can guess what this virus will look like. Is it going to come from liquid, or is it going to come from coronavirus. So we know the enemy,” he said. he declared.
There is now enough analytical capacity to study viruses that exist in animals and use advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to make better predictions.
“So we are not only basing on what is likely to come from what happens in the past, but we are actually basing our ability to protect ourselves against future pandemics by knowing precisely what is likely to become easy with these scans. advances, “said Dr Plump. .
Observing that there are great opportunities for collaboration between pharmaceutical companies in the two countries, and in particular platforms like that of the chambers of commerce of the United States and India, he said that innovation and science must first and foremost be the cornerstone.
“Second, we need to have infrastructure, we need to focus, we need to have collaboration beyond the walls of science that includes governments and policy makers and nonprofits and that’s something. other than the US Chamber of Commerce in India did, “he said.
Referring to the theme of this year’s conference ‘From N of One to N of a Billion’, Dr Plump said: ‘The theme is meant to symbolize that we have become so innovative in the health sciences. that today we are able to create therapies. drugs that can be tailored to a single individual.
“But we recognize that if we don’t manufacture drugs that also treat the billions of patients who live across the world, we are not serving our purpose,” he said and suggested that the Indian Chamber of Commerce of United States can elevate the dialogue. innovation in health care and ensure that it is as much innovation-driven as it is access-driven.
He opposed the decision to grant a TRIPS waiver to certain COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization (WTO), as being proposed by India and South Africa and supported by states -United.
“This is horrible, because the problem is we all want to create solutions that enable a rapid resolution of a global pandemic. That is not where the gap is. The gap is in the chain. ‘supply. It’s in manufacturing. It’s in access,’ he said. .
“You even saw in India, recently, how you rolled out a vaccination program. Here the government made the decision to decentralize much of the work and that backfired. The vaccines ended up going to the wrong people. The costs have gone up. This is not the case. on intellectual property. It really is an operational challenge that we are facing right now; it’s not an intellectual property challenge, ”said Dr Plump.
So, not only does it not solve the problem, but also creates a challenge in the future. Because innovation is driven by intellectual property, the ability to have exclusive access to a discovery, he said.
“And, if you step in and create structures that can in a wanton way like what we see with the WTO remove intellectual property protection, you are going to hold back innovation in the future. So I think that it’s a horrible example of trying to do the right thing, but with the wrong solution, ”said Dr Plump.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)