COVID-19: Fighting a global pandemic with innovation – transcript

Ideas to Innovation


Danielle: I would say that the new normal is that we adapt to the challenges we face and overcome our obstacles through innovation. 

Kevin: This certain necessity, really accelerated development of a bunch of new technologies and brought it forward several years. I think a lot of these changes are going to stick around. 

Lynn: Healthcare experts, providers, regulators could do a better job of calming fears and doubts by providing some historical reminders about the eradication of other viruses, such as polio. 

Speaker 1: The Ideas to Innovation podcast from Clarivate. 

Joan: Hello, I’m Joan Walker, and welcome to The Ideas to Innovation podcast. In this series, we’ll be talking to the people who live and breathe the process of turning ideas into innovation, the technologies that we depend on, the medicines that we rely on, the electricity that powers our day-to-day life, all of which were ideas before becoming inventions that have and continue to impact our lives. Join the conversation with experts and industry leaders to discuss innovation at its core. COVID-19 is an enormous global challenge that has required an unprecedented level of engagement by stakeholders within pharma, research, and policy. 

While SARS-CoV-2 emerged as a novel virus to which humans had no immunity, infection control measures have been deployed and existing as well as new and emerging technologies that are being leveraged to speed the development of new treatments and therapies. While there are ongoing developments and strides made in the fight against COVID-19 since the onset of the global pandemic, it is the dominating illness impacting countless lives, with a history that is constantly being rewritten. Today, we bring Clarivate experts to the table to provide a snapshot of key milestones over the past year, and to share their perspectives on what it is to come. 

Specifically, we will delve into key medical responses to the pandemic and what the new normal looks like, offering analysis and a review of the latest data and insights that can provide a complete view of the healthcare landscape. Joining us today are Danielle Waterman, senior quality specialist, Lynn Yoffee publisher, BioWorld, and Kevin Yan, senior analyst Medtech Insights. Welcome one and all Danielle, Lynn, and Kevin. Hello. 

Kevin: Hi. Nice to be here. 

Danielle: Hello. 

Lynn: Hi, Joan. 

Joan: Now you are all most welcome. Just to kick off, I would like to invite each of you to tell us a little bit more about yourself. In addition, it would be great to hear which trend or trends you are most closely following as it relates to COVID-19. Let’s get the ball rolling with Danielle. Can you tell us how you started out in this industry? 

Danielle: I started working here in 1994 as a trademark research analyst. I later became a training specialist and I’m currently a senior quality specialist for our trademark business. My focus is on the trademark aspect here. 

Joan: Great. Thank you for that. Over to you, Lynn. 

Lynn: Thank you for inviting me to the conversation. I’m a journalist. I started work as a reporter for newspapers and early in my career, I moved into specialty news with a focus on medical and health news. Today, I’m the publisher of BioWorld. 

Joan: Excellent. Thank you for that. Kevin, how about you? How did you start out in this industry? 

Kevin: I actually started working in compliance strategy at Sanofi Pasteur, but after a while, I wanted to be closer to the commercial side of things, so I went back and did an MBA. Upon graduating, I wanted to do something that applied to data. That’s how I ended up at Clarivate. Today, I’m following the Medtech industry and the commercial side of things. 

Joan: Great. Thank you for that. Again, welcome. Just to tell each of us a little bit more about your role and what trends are of most interest in your segment as well, can we start again with you, Danielle? 

Danielle: Yes. As I mentioned, my role is related to trademarks, which is the naming of the products and services used by consumers around the world. Some of the trends I’ve seen in the last year are, of course, the increase in our pharmaceutical work, but we’ve also seen increases in other products that have helped our consumers cope with the pandemic, such as our cleaning and disinfecting products, personal protective equipment, teleconferencing and telemedicine products and services. I’ve had a bit of a view into how all industries and the entire world really has adjusted to the new normal of coping with the pandemic. 

Joan: Sure. It must have been an extraordinary time for you with the whole trademarking world. 

Danielle: Absolutely. 

Joan: Over to you, Lynn. 

Lynn: BioWorld is a new service that covers the life cycle of human therapies and development. We cover the companies behind those candidates, their business developments, the science clinical, and regulatory aspects. Our content also includes financial and strategic trends. We hope that all of that helps customers of Clarivate to develop their strategies. BioWorld’s been published for more than three decades. We’ve been tracking the evolution of drug development and medical technology industry. We’ve been around for quite some time. My job includes directing the news process, managing our team of writers and editors around the world, and driving our business strategy. 

Joan: Thank you. Thanks for that, Lynn. Last but not least, Kevin. 

Kevin: As part of the Medtech Insights team, our main focus is using the data that we have to build models and forecasts for our various Medtech markets. One of the biggest trends that’s really exciting for us is just the sheer volume of data that’s being generated these days. Also as important is access and availability of that data. Just accessing huge amounts of data is getting way easier and much quicker for us. We love trying to figure out how we can incorporate all that information into our models and what insights we can get from it. 

Joan: Great. Thank you for that. Now, again, another question to all three, could you please tell me a little bit more about the work you do at Clarivate that’s related to COVID-19. Let’s start with you again, Danielle. 

Danielle: Specifically related to COVID-19, I and my colleagues conducted hundreds of trademark research reports on the potential names of the vaccines for our pharmaceutical clients. When a pharmaceutical company creates any new pharmaceutical, they develop a list of several possible candidate names. We conduct the research on those potential names for similarity to existing pharmaceuticals, and we create a report of those similar trademarks. Our clients use these reports to select which candidate name is distinctive and avoids consumer confusion. That will be the name that will go on to become the trademark for their vaccine. 

Joan: Sure. What I’m picking up on there is, obviously, you do not want your client to be confused and instead of using one thing they’re using another and having a completely adverse reaction. 

Danielle: Absolutely. We don’t want medication errors if somebody is receiving the wrong pharmaceutical or the wrong vaccine. 

Joan: Absolutely. It sounds such a basic thing, doesn’t it? I can only imagine the meetings that go on about some semi-related names. 

Danielle: Finding a distinctive name in a crowded field is a challenge for our clients. We assist with that challenge. 

Joan: Gosh, I can imagine. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting, Danielle. [laughs] Lynn, over to you the same question, please. 

Lynn: Sure. BioWorld delivers same-day news to our customers because speed of information delivery today is so critical, so our pace of work each day is pretty fast. In general, the volume of biopharmaceutical news has increased 100% in the last four years, and COVID-19 is part of that. Just to give you an idea, since January 2020, we’ve published 5,800 articles on COVID-19, and that is about 20% of our news volume. Generally, the focus of our main articles is on the most innovative therapeutics in development, but we also track virtually all human therapeutics, at least in brief format. 

Joan: That’s an interesting stat, isn’t it? It’s increased 100% in the last four years. If you had to determine, say, pre-COVID what was causing presumably a gradual increase, could you determine what that was? 

Lynn: I’m not sure I can answer that question. There’s just been a huge acceleration in the development of therapeutics and the science evolves so quickly. The number of companies has increased, the number of therapeutics and pipelines has increased. I think it’s just very dynamic. 

Joan: An exciting world to be in I can imagine. 

Lynn: Absolutely. It’s always super interesting every day to track these developments. 

Joan: Excellent. Kevin, over to you. 

Kevin: What we do is we create forecasts and models for our customers and clients on how the market outlook is going to be for the next 10 years. As you can imagine, COVID threw all of those out the window and we basically had to start all over. For COVID, one of the things that we did was quickly build a way to incorporate COVID into our models. This let us adapt and publish all of our models again that had a way to account in the short term for the impacts of COVID and also how the long-term recovery of the Medtech markets is going to look. I think that really helped us answer a lot of questions that we got from our clients about how COVID is going to look on their markets. 

Joan: Sure. Just looking at COVID-19 and its continuing impact on the lives of so many people across the globe with lockdowns and quarantines and so on, and our working practices, could you identify how COVID-19 has impacted your specific ongoing work? Again, let’s start with you, Danielle. 

Danielle: Of course we’ve all had to adjust to the lockdowns and work from home has become quite common, but fortunately, my group has had the capability to work home for over 20 years now. At the time we first started, it wasn’t nearly as common as it is today. We were able to quickly adjust to meet our clients’ needs with really little to no interruption. 

Joan: For you, it was actually quite smooth and not a case of what pandemic, but it actually, presumably, didn’t cause you any hiccups in the initial? 

Danielle: No, it really didn’t. We were all accustomed to it and all set up for it already. It was a fairly smooth process. 

Joan: Oh, excellent. Lynn, how about you? 

Lynn: Same for my team. We have always worked from home. I have journalists around the world, both full-time employees and some of our freelance contract correspondence. We were already set up that way because of the flow of information. We’re all working in different time zones. Everybody was already at home. The only major adjustment that we have made as part of the pandemic is just becoming more selective because as I said, the volume of news has just really increased exponentially, but our working strategies, we already had everything in place. 

Joan: Interesting. Kevin, how about you? 

Kevin: We were actually also quite remote even before COVID. I guess the only real change is now we are fully remote every single day. 

Joan: Wow. It’s an interesting world, isn’t it, when there is so much office space now that sits empty, but what I hear from the three of you is actually that it was already the case for you. You were just doing your work at home. That’s interesting to hear. Thank you very much for that. Now, it’s really interesting and insightful to learn how these trends are impacting the work that you do, the very important work that you do. Taking those considerations into account and also your introductions and the preliminary thoughts that you shared, let’s move on to the heart of our discussion today. 

From lockdowns and procedure deferrals to clinical trial, pauses, and M&A challenges, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impact of the operations of nearly all healthcare stakeholders. Without historical data to help policymakers, researchers, and medical professionals understand just how the world will emerge from this crisis, it’s a challenge to predict how recovery will unfold for healthcare stakeholders because we don’t have a crystal ball, do we? Lynn, if I can turn to you, what can we expect next in this fight against COVID? 

Lynn: Before we look ahead, let’s take a look at the current state of things. According to the World Health Organization, there are now 217 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 4.5 million deaths and more than 5 billion vaccine doses have been given. At the same time, the biopharma industry has really stepped up. It’s working on 748 therapeutics and 236 vaccines according to Bioworld. MedTech companies have produced hundreds of diagnostics. Most people are focused on the handful of vaccines that recently gained emergency use authorization and approval because they’re in the headlines repeatedly in consumer news. 

There’s an army of companies out there at work because they realize that a half dozen vaccines aren’t the full answer. Just one example, there are nasal sprays designed to block viruses in development. One of those is Virpax Pharmaceuticals, which developed a molecular masking spray which is going to be an over-the-counter product to limit transmission of SARS and influenza. That sounds like a simple solution to help reduce transmissions, but we’ll see. 

Joan: Obviously, you can’t answer this. I realize that, but you think, “My goodness, when can I pop down to boots and get one of those over the counter?” 

Lynn: [laughs] Normally, it takes about 10 years to bring a product idea to commercialization, but the industry has really sped up the whole process. Science has allowed for that, but think about it, it’s only been about two years. It’ll take a little while for some of these others. Many times drugs that are in the pipeline fail. More fail than they do succeed. 

Joan: Sure, and we don’t hear about those, do we? 

Lynn: You do in BioWorld because we cover both the successes and the failures. You don’t hear about the failures as much in the consumer press. 

Joan: No. Sure. I suppose the thing is the consumer doesn’t need to hear about what’s not quite worked cause what we want is this magic solution, don’t we? 

Lynn: Exactly. 

Joan: Now, Lynn and Kevin, I understand that most recently, Clarivate launched the COVID-19 vaccine availability in MedTech impact report, which forecasted the influence of vaccine uptake upon recovery. What’s been the global response to COVID? Have certain approaches proven to be better than others? Lynn, may I ask you that? 

Lynn: A look at the cases and deaths globally suggests that the world is just not doing any better than it was this timeline last year, even though vaccines are now authorized and approved. We just don’t have enough people vaccinated yet. The social distancing policies of 2020, which were relaxed in the middle of this year, appeared to have played a huge role in keeping numbers down, even with the vaccines variance, specifically the Delta variant, are a game-changer. 

Joan: I can imagine. Kevin, over to you. What would you add to that? 

Kevin: Globally, the first response mostly started off focusing with contact tracing, rapid testing, and mask mandates. Like Lynn said, now we’re shifting to more of a focus on vaccinations and lockdowns. It’s hard to say that one method has worked better than another. It’s pretty dependent on each situation that a country might face. Like for developed countries, they mostly had pretty quick access to vaccines and had the economic ability to weather some long lockdowns, but emerging economies who had less access to vaccinations their economies had less of reserve and we’ve seen accelerating cases once those lockdown measures were eased. 

Especially for developing economies that can’t really sustain a long lockdown, they’ve received some help from global organizations such as the WHO, Gavi, UNICEF, and COVAX. We’ve seen a couple strategies even within different vaccinations, and we’ve seen some countries be successful with less vaccination, but focus on stronger lockdowns. Some countries have focused on stronger lockdowns with less vaccination. Even within vaccinations, some countries such as the UK went with a first dose first strategy, but the US took a more balanced approach. Looking back at it now, both seem to work well. The differences are almost entirely just in the short term. 

Joan: Thank you for that. Thank you both. Now, moving on, on August the 23rd, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine. The mRNA vaccine, which will be branded as Comirnaty and was first developed by Germany’s BioNTech SE has been available since December the 11th last year under an Emergency Use Authorization, EUA. This is the first EUA vaccine to receive the FDA’s full endorsement. Now, this decision comes as some policymakers, businesses, and healthcare leaders look to convince the unvaccinated that the shot is safe and effective. 

Kevin, back to you, what does this decision mean for the industry? Do we anticipate any challenges companies may face as they push forward to develop vaccines, or for those with EUAs, will they proceed as expected? 

Kevin: For the industry, I think this is actually a good news story and serves as a reminder that the pharm industry can actually move a lot quicker than people traditionally think, almost like a small tech company. We’ve seen this relatively new mRNA platform suddenly pivot to a new disease, go through clinical trials, and get approval in less than two years. I think that’s quite remarkable. 

Lynn: I agree. 

Kevin: This also gives mRNA technologies some acceptance and adopting in the mainstream. It’s probably accelerated its development probably by 5 or 10 years. I think we’ll see some mRNA products be developed sooner rather than later. 

Joan: Excellent. Thank you for that. Now, can I just ask you, this might seem like a random question, but given the speed that the industry is working on the vaccinations, do you think that’s going to set a precedent for future with, say, the global industry saying, “If we can do it for that, why can’t we work at this cracking speed all the time?” 

Kevin: That’s probably a bit harder to answer. I think two years for everything might be a bit of a moonshot or a bit of an aggressive target. 

Joan: Unrealistic, would you suggest? 

Kevin: I think if we were to say, this is now the new norm, that might be a little unrealistic. This might be one of those, we dropped everything and focused on that, on COVID, and that’s how we were able to get it out in less than two years. If we look back and go back to focusing on all the other diseases, we might not be able to focus so clearly on one specific disease. 

Joan: Sure. I know that was a slightly going down tangent Boulevard as a question, but as a layperson, you think, “My god, these scientists have done the most extraordinary thing. Could this be the new norm that we work at this astonishing place?” Do you know what I mean? 

Kevin: Yes, that would be certainly amazing if it could be the case, but I think we also need to remember that mRNA was being developed for a long time before COVID really pushed it into the limelight. This isn’t just the pharmaceutical industry working at breakneck speeds, but also the regulatory agencies saying, we have a crisis, we need to maybe adopt some other ways that we’re working and be a little more flexible and accommodating. 

Joan: Sure. Danielle, over to you. Do you have anything to add to this? 

Danielle: Yes. This question is mostly outside of my scope of work, but what I can say is that the trademark aspect of the work begins long before FDA approval. Typically, our research is conducted about one to two years before we actually see the pharmaceutical approved by the FDA, and sometimes it’s even longer than that. Of course, that has been a lot quicker with the COVID vaccines, which really have come to market at a record pace. I would expect to see our clients continue to push forward as they’ve been doing. 

Joan: Thank you for that. Thank you both very much. Now, Lynn, over to you, what’s your take on this decision and how policymakers, businesses, and healthcare leaders should respond to it? 

Lynn: I do think that there will be some changes to how drugs and vaccines are developed going forward because they’re going to be some lessons learned. Already we’re hearing from industry experts about how clinical trials are performed in a decentralized process and using more telemedicine rather than in-person visits. I do anticipate changes that will maybe help to speed other clinical trials and other drugs in development. On the front of convincing the unvaccinated that the shot is safe and effective, on that topic, vaccination is an intense political issue for some people. 

Healthcare experts, providers, regulators could do a better job of calming fears and doubts by providing some historical reminders about the eradication of other viruses, such as polio. That vaccine was widely accepted. Why? Because people had larger respect for science. This is just my personal opinion, but the proliferation of social media has given rise to a mammoth amount of disinformation. If headway is to be made to gain more trust in science, a stronger public health information campaign is needed. Short of that, I think mandates seem to be one of the only other avenues. 

Joan: Yes, sure. It’s a thorny one, isn’t it? It really is a thorny one. I appreciate what you’ve shared is your personal opinion. Thank you for that. Now, another open question, following the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, is with regards to boosters. Any initial thoughts or trends that you could share with regards to how acceptant the masses will be ready to receive or administer a booster program in light of what we’ve just discussed. Lynn, back to you first. 

Lynn: We still don’t have a majority of people vaccinated, so let’s get those shots in arms first. The whole drug development ecosystem relies on data to decide whether or not to move vaccines and therapeutics forward. Though public health officials are obviously trying to prevent more infections, we need to wait for that data to be sure who needs boosters and when. There is some conflicting data from around the world on the extent to which the Delta variant is reducing the effectiveness of vaccines is generating uncertainty over the need or not for booster programs. 

While countries, including the US, Israel, and France, are approving the use of boosters for some, the European Medicines Agency and the European Center for Disease Control put out a joint statement just last week saying there is no urgent need for people who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to have a third. That’s what we know for now, but this is all very dynamic, so stay tuned. 

Joan: Yes, absolutely, because really, that could turn on a sixpence, couldn’t it? 

Lynn: Absolutely. 

Joan: Thanks for that, then, Kevin, what might you add to this? 

Kevin: To echo what Lynn said, as she mentioned, some countries have already rolled out booster shots, like Israel and France. From a patient or a general public point of view, I think in the short term, we’re still living with COVID at the forefront. Amongst the people who have already gotten their first or second dose, I don’t think there will be much hesitation for them to go get a third dose. For them, there’s a low risk, but a high benefit for getting that third dose. As we start to look into the future and several years down the line, and COVID starts taking a backstage to life, there are studies that suggest COVID is going to become an endemic issue and we might be getting boosters like the flu. 

In that situation, I think it’ll first rely on the data, but also, political opinion will be an important factor as well. One of the things that we might want to start thinking about is, who’s going to be paying for those booster shots? Is it the general public, or will it be the government? 

Joan: That again, it’s going to be a thorny one when that bridge has to be crossed, isn’t it? 

Kevin: Yes, for sure. It’s going to be hard to predict what’s going to happen. 

Joan: Yes, absolutely. Lynn, back to you. We’re in the midst of a race, for want of a better word, to develop therapeutics. We’ve got over 700 plus treatments in various stages of testing and repurposing and more. Now, who are you seeing standout in the race thus far? Who would you be pinning a medal on? 

Lynn: [laughs] I don’t know about medals, but one way to assess the race is if we look at it through the lens of Wall Street investors. BioWorld’s Biopharmaceutical Index is tracking ahead by 10.6% this year, which is in line with both the NASDAQ Biotech Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. BioWorld analysis shows that part of that positive movement is due to enthusiasm for COVID antibodies to treat severe diseases. Our senior analyst, Karen Carey, pointed out that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, and AbCellera Biologics seem to be leading the pack in that race. 

Now, on the vaccine front, there are several in development that are moving the investor’s needle. These vaccines are particularly effective against the variants. Karen pointed out that the three front runners include Ocugen’s Covaxin, which is a spike glycoprotein modulator, Johnson & Johnson’s adenoviral vector vaccine, and Novavax’s Matrix-M protein subunit vaccine are the leaders. 

Joan: Excellent. I’ve made a note of all of that. Now, we know that developing a new medicine is a lengthy and difficult exercise as we’ve discussed, and we can’t just immediately click our fingers and have a solution. It’s a difficult exercise, particularly for an unknown. Now, how has Clarivate is supported pharma, researchers, and policymakers in their quest for viable treatments? Danielle, may we start with you? 

Danielle: Yes. From the trademark perspective, we provide our clients with reports that will help assist them in selecting a distinctive name for their pharmaceuticals. This really is of vital importance to help avoid medication errors. We don’t want a person receiving the wrong drug or the wrong vaccine due to a confusingly similar name. Our reports provide an in-depth analysis of what might be confusingly similar and provide our clients with those marks that could be similar to the consumer so they can make the best decision in selecting their name. 

Joan: I can completely see that. Lynn, over to you. 

Lynn: I would say in general, that Clarivate has supported the sector with data and the critical insight that goes alongside that. Specifically from BioWorld, consumer news outlets from around the world have all suddenly become experts in drug development, but they latch onto the controversial stories that will get a lot of clicks to their sites. Clarivate’s news service, BioWorld, is comprehensive in coverage. We provide perspective for a deeper understanding of the news at hand. Our reporting is data-rich too from BioWorld’s original research, as well as data from Clarivate’s co-tellers. 

Joan: You’re supporting exactly what you’re saying in your argument. You’ve got the stats to back it up. 

Lynn: Absolutely. 

Joan: Kevin, over to you. 

Kevin: On the Medtech Insight side of things, one of the things that we did was to develop COVID-19 specific content and offer it for free to all of our clients. Each one of our reports now has a chapter dedicated entirely to COVID where we look at the impact, which range from less than 10% all the way up to double-digit impacts. We also collected insights from around the Medtech industry and collated them all together in a easy-to-digest format. 

One of the other things we did was put out several white papers and market impact assessments for areas such as the aesthetics, cardiovascular, orthopedic space to try and help our industry partners get a better view of what’s going on and also what the impact has been on a more micro-market specific level. We use some of our data products to try and come up with some useful dashboards and visualizations to just remove some of the uncertainty on the impact of COVID to the MedTech industry. 

Joan: Thank you for that. Now, Danielle, with the FDA approval of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine, we learned and we heard this earlier on in our discussion, we learned that the brand name will be Comirnaty. Can you tell us how Clarivate supports clients in selecting the brand name for their vaccines? 

Danielle: Yes. The naming process for pharmaceuticals is really a complex and lengthy process designed specifically to avoid consumer confusion, which in the pharmaceutical field can lead to medication errors. We have a team of dedicated pharmaceutical analysts with an average of more than 20 years’ experience in uncovering potentially confusingly similar trademark names. Our reports help our clients select a trademark that is distinctive to ensure that the patient receives the intended vaccine. 

Many of our clients also continue to monitor their trademark through our watch services. This ensures that no future pharmaceutical is closely similar to theirs. The attention here is to make sure that people are receiving the correct pharmaceutical or a vaccine from the source that they trust. 

Joan: Sure. Would you say, and again, this is coming from a user perspective, does it have to be a catchy name? Is it something that is going to stick in the memory? 

Danielle: I could tell you from my personal opinion that that is absolutely helpful. We don’t actually give an opinion on the name itself, but I can tell you that they do need to have a name that is both easy to pronounce, but also distinctive. That is a challenge for our clients because of the crowded field. We will go through and we’ll list the similar trademarks for them, list things that have a similar prefix or similar suffix. 

Something that looks the same, sounds the same, something that might look similar if it’s written out by hand. We have to consider not just does it sound, but also how does it look. Could this M be seen as an N and be confused with a different pharmaceutical? Which letters look the same in handwriting? 

Joan: Gosh, again, this is not something that one would think of, is it? My niece is a pharmacist and I don’t have massively pharmaceutical conversations with her, but sometimes she will talk about medication and drugs. As soon as she said them, I’ve forgotten whatever it is. Do you know what I mean? I can’t retain the name of a medication. 

Danielle: That is one of the things that we look at. Some medication errors do occur because somebody misremembers. You might go to the hospital and tell them what a loved one is taking for pharmaceuticals and you might misremember the exact name of the pharmaceutical. The more distinctive that we can make the name and make sure that when people communicate, whether it’s a patient or a pharmacist or a doctor, that they’re getting the right name that helps healthcare providers to make sure that they know what people are taking and that they are giving them the right medicine. 

Joan: Absolutely crucial. Now, while it seems like progress is being made each and every day, there is still anxiety around what we can expect going forward. I would like to invite each of you to reflect on what the new normal looks like from an industry perspective. Let’s start with you Danielle, if we may. 

Danielle: We began to see a shift in our work in late March and early April of 2020 when we first saw some COVID-related trademark searches ordered. What I’ve seen is how all industries have really responded to create solutions to the problems that we face, from our pharmaceutical and healthcare clients working to keep us all healthy, to our tech companies making it easier for us to work, to educate our children, and to socialize. I would say that the new normal is that we adapt to the challenges we face and overcome our obstacles through innovation. 

Joan: I think you should have that put on a little badge. 


Danielle: A t-shirt. Needs to be a t-shirt. [laughs] 

Joan: Exactly. Thank you for that. Lynn, over to you. 

Lynn: I agree. The biotech and pharmaceutical industries have had a seismic shift in their pipelines. They’ve adapted. There are almost 1,000 new or repurposed COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines. Regulators like the FDA are adapting too to accommodate things like decentralized clinical trials, but unfortunately, pandemics will keep coming. Even as the world grapples with COVID-19, researchers and public health officials are trying to apply lessons to future outbreaks. Driven by climate change and urbanization, pandemics may increase in frequency. 

A lot like the century floods have already occurred twice in Europe in the first 20 years of the 21st century. That’s alarming, but I am hopeful because new technologies and scientific advances have allowed us to develop vaccines and treatments so quickly. 

Joan: Excellent. Thank you for that, Lynn. Kevin, what are your thoughts? 

Kevin: For the Medtech industry, I think there’s going to be the ever-present trend of digitalization, but also a bit more of a cautious tone going forward. With so many things that can be done digitally or remotely now, such as diagnostics, telemedicine, and patient monitoring. Going forward, I think the industry is going to be a bit more cautious, with companies adding in a bit of an extra supply chain redundancies, such as taking a look at the China Plus One model, or maybe thinking about how to handle longer lead times or adapting just-in-time supply chain. Forecasts and models in the future might need to think about what would happen if we suddenly had a month or two without any medical procedures. 

Joan: Kevin, can you expand on that? What might these predictions look like for patients? 

Kevin: I think for patients, one of the big changes is going to be the increase in home care. Telemedicine’s a real option now, maybe even the preferred option, especially for consultations with physicians. We might start to see other types of maybe simple diagnostic tests being sent by mail, or consumer level rapid screening at large events or in high-risk locations. Those are things that might stick around. With the Internet of Things, more patient monitoring can really be done remotely now and not just by healthcare specific devices, but maybe in the future by everyday devices like smart speakers and things like that. 

Joan: Excellent. Thank you for that. Now, I just want to thank you all so much for these really compelling insights, your perspectives, and your honest opinions. We’re all eager for these emerging treatments and therapies to succeed and to pave the way for a return to some semblance of normality, whatever that looks like, an adapted normality. Can you share what you are most optimistic about and why? What does the future look like for those who may require treatment for COVID-19 and all its potential variance? Lynn, let’s start with you. 

Lynn: We have a long road ahead with a lot of unknowns. For example, we have to think about fallout from long COVID syndrome. We just reported in BioWorld about a new study out of University College, London that found one in seven children who had COVID-19 go on to develop symptoms of long COVID. That study looked at 6,800 kids, 11 to 17 years old, who were tested in the first quarter of this year. That’s daunting, and that’s just the children. There are so many long-term issues we may not even know about yet, but I am most optimistic that we have a scientific research and a commercial sector that is building an armamentarium to meet these challenges. 

Clarivate is helping by providing critical data and insight to keep fueling that research and development engine and BioWorld is continuing to keep our customers informed minute by minute. I have one last thought. Keep in mind that even though this pandemic is front and center, people are still getting sick with other infections. There are thousands of rare diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, et cetera, and the population is aging. We have all those related conditions. Though the industry has been somewhat disrupted and pivoted to meet the COVID challenge for clinical trials paused, for example, they are adapting to the new world and charging ahead on all of these other fronts. That’s very encouraging. 

Joan: That’s a very good optimistic note. Thank you for that. Danielle. 

Danielle: I truly am optimistic about the ability of our clients to respond to the challenges we all face. As I mentioned, I’ve been in this industry since 1994, and I’ve seen various trends and things evolve over years, but what we saw last year in how quickly our clients responded and how they really did adapt to the situation. When it was unclear at first when we might have a vaccine, I was just so impressed by the speed at which they were able to really bring this to market and how quickly our clients worked on that. 

Seeing the research being done, it just gave me hope that a vaccine was not far away as we saw that to be the case. That work has continued and they continue to respond with innovative solutions. It’s been really truly inspiring. 

Joan: I completely agree. Thank you for that. Kevin, over to you. 

Kevin: Moving forwards, one of the things that I’m really optimistic about are just the innovations that have emerged. This sudden necessity really accelerated development of a bunch of new technologies and brought it forward several years. I think a lot of these changes are going to stick around, and many of them have really centered around connecting virtually. These are things that are going to apply to all industries like telemedicine, healthcare, and remote working in all forms of different sectors. For patients that need treatment of COVID, I think we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I believe we have absorbed the main shock of this pandemic. After over a year, we’ve seen healthcare systems adapt and learn how to operate under this COVID environment. Hopefully, as vaccinations continue to increase, severe hospitalizations are going to decrease and we’re going to see fewer and fewer COVID crises in hospitals and slowly it’ll fade into the rearview. 

Joan: Listen, I’m applauding you on that. Thank you. I’m not going to make clapping noises because as we were discussing before, it sounds very strange on mic, but thank you for that. Now, I just want to thank you all, Danielle Waterman. Thank you. 

Danielle: You’re welcome. 

Joan: Lynn Yoffee, thank you. 

Lynn: You’re very welcome. 

Joan: Kevin Yan, thank you. 

Kevin: Oh, thank you very much. 

Joan: Follow and listen to Ideas to Innovation for engaging, informative, and inspirational content with insights you can use. Now available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast directories. Share, like, review, or join the conversation with your comments on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook by clicking on the share link. Thank you for joining us. Until next time, I’m Joan Walker. Goodbye. 

Speaker 1: The Ideas to Innovation podcast from Clarivate. 

[00:45:12] [END OF AUDIO]