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‘COVID decade’ creates $10 trillion impact

$10 trillion impact on healthcare innovation investment

By: Steve Philp, The World Nano Foundation

‘COVID decade’ creates $10 trillion impact

Healthcare technology investment in 2020 soared 47% to a new high of $51 billion, and figures show it will rocket to even greater heights.

Overall, healthcare investment is tipped to pass $10 trillion by 2022 on a 10-year upward trajectory, already being called the ‘COVID decade’ for investment into disruptive innovation supporting pandemic protection and preparedness.

This research’s spin-off also creates opportunities to democratise and decentralise healthcare through early detection diagnostics and early intervention therapies and precision medicine, all set to transform global health and human longevity.

A further sign of where new investment is going came with the recent launch of a $300 million Pandemic Protection Sub-fund by the Luxembourg-based Vector Innovation Fund (VIF), focusing on this ‘new age’ health tech and preparation for the next global healthcare challenge.

The new fund forms part of $17 billion (source: Pitchbook) in venture funding for healthcare innovation in recent years related to infectious diseases.

Scottish Health Innovations reports how accelerating investment has advanced the healthcare sector 10 years in just six months, through new data-driven technologies and digitisation, while vaccines have developed at unprecedented speed; the research and rollout for Pfizer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines were the fastest in history.

Testing has improved, too; lateral flow tests (LFTs) from the world’s largest manufacturer, Innova Medical, are now 99.9% accurate yet take just 30 minutes to show results and help identify new variants and isolate asymptomatic carriers.

Using cutting edge nanotechnology, these LFTs have been adopted by a world-class UK testing and vaccine regime, including a new national health agency UKHSA to protect against future health threats.

But far more is needed to avoid repetition of COVID-19’s devastation: 2.74m deaths to date, $5.6 trillion in global GDP lost, plus severe financial, health, and social impacts – mental health problems, unemployment, and poverty have all soared, while many people with life-threatening diseases have gone undiagnosed.

And the world is still alarmingly unprepared for another pandemic. COVID-19 was transmitted from animals, and scientists now know that two new ‘zoonotic’ viruses have done this every year for the last century. Yet, the Royal Society of Chemistry claims only 10 of 220 viruses known to infect humans have antiviral drugs available to combat them.

Against such odds, says the Executive Chair of Scottish Health Innovations, Graham Watson, healthcare innovation, rapid development, and early adoption must become routine in what he calls an “optimal investment ecosystem”.

This had been lacking according to leading medical journal, The Lancet, which reported that a pre-COVID assessment exposed a need for faster medical manufacturing and distribution during a possible pandemic, and commented: “A true, end-to-end R&D ecosystem must deliver needed products to people as rapidly as possible, and at scale in a globally fair and equitable fashion.”

Paul Sheedy, the co-founder of the not-for-profit World Nano Foundation, argued strongly against any easing of investment into nanomedicines and nano diagnostics towards better healthcare and pandemic protection:

“Nanomedicine investment alone grew 250% in the last five years, according to Pitchbook, while equity funding to digital health companies hit an all-time high last year, reaching $26.5 billion, but it has to be maintained if we are to avoid the human and economic devastation of another COVID.”

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