COVID continues to impact biopharma supply chains, survey

Industry continues to feel the effect of supply chain constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest industry survey from Informa Connect.

The Delta variant. Booster shots. Vaccination hesitancy. Mask mandates (or lack of them). The coronavirus pandemic is clearly still with us, 18 months on from the first reports of a new virus coming out of Wuhan, China.

And it continues to affect the life sciences industry, according to Informa Connect’s latest survey. ‘COVID-19 One Year On: Impacts on the Global Life Sciences Industry 2021’ gathered responses from over 600 industry professionals to capture a picture of the current working landscape and compare it to the results seen in 2020.

Image: iStock/AndreyPopov

Since the first survey, industry has stepped up with scientific breakthroughs and collaborations that resulted in the approval of a host of diagnostic tools and effective vaccines, but problems continue to persist.

In particular, respondents are still concerned about the impact the pandemic is having on the biopharma supply chain.

“The pandemic is currently impacting supply chains for 87% of respondents – exactly the same proportion as in 2020,” the survey found. “For almost a quarter of respondents it is having a significant impact. When comparing different regions, Europe is facing slightly lesser impacts, with 17% seeing no impact and just 11% seeing significant impact, compared to 11% of North Americans seeing no impact and 25% significant impact.”

With the task of vaccinating and testing the world, demand for the tools and equipment needed to make these was, and continues to be, unprecedented. Coupled with geo-political concerns driving a rethink to the global supply chain model across the biopharma sector, respondents concern seems to be warranted.

The delay for some single-use components, for example, are that of a year or more as the pandemic stretches a sector that was already in high demand due to gene therapy growth and next generation flexible cell culture facilities for antibodies and other recombinant proteins.

The survey also found many companies have reduced their pipelines on the back of the pandemic.

“10% of respondents’ organizations have seen significantly reduced pipelines and a further 38% slightly reduced. Conversely, with a high proportion of companies working on COVID-19 treatment, vaccines or diagnostics, it is perhaps unsurprising to see that a quarter of respondents seeing an improved pipeline.”

To download the full survey, click here.