The first vaccines were developed and approved in record time. The outstanding work by researchers in the pharmaceutical industry and by scientists worldwide, and also especially in Europe, is quite remarkable. The lives of millions of people and indeed the entire global economy depend on the successes achieved in these fields – probably one of the key realisations today. The strength of research in the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and Germany is not an unknown quantity, as evidenced by the hundreds of drugs currently in the development pipeline, specifically in oncology.
The fast provision of sufficient volumes of safe and effective drugs is becoming an essential task for the major economies and industrialised nations, and will remain so in the future.
Only by doing so can we protect our health systems from becoming overwhelmed: the hospitals in which outstanding work was provided in the various stages of the pandemic when thousands of doctors and nurses helped patients, putting their own lives on the line and, in some case, even losing their lives in the process.
Investing in research and production
The infrastructure already exists in Europe, as Germany was once the world’s pharmacy and has even produced Nobel Laureates in Medicine in the field of vaccine development. Unfortunately, there continues to be an ongoing decline in the number of start-ups in the biotech sector, while new investments, especially in gene and cell therapies, are growing very positively in the USA and Asia. From a European perspective, this does not represent a satisfactory and future-centric way forward, even against the background of a trade policy that is at times imponderable and subject to possible restrictions, and supply chains that can prove difficult. These effects were very noticeable at the start of the pandemic, and specifically affected flows of goods needed to provide protection against the spread of the pandemic.
The production of pharmaceuticals, in particular, is highly complex and requires the highest levels of precision and reliability in the manufacture of the products, comprehensive interdisciplinary knowledge, often within a close scientific and industrial network, as well as a powerful infrastructure of logistics providers, plant manufacturers, component manufacturers and highly specialised service providers – all of this is still available, especially in Germany.