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Preparing for What’s Next

Editor’s Letter

As the year 2020 comes to a close, many are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the many aspects of our lives. This year has been a turning point for many industries especially the biotechnology industry. Besides battling the rising number of cases of the novel coronavirus across the world, many are beginning to look to science for evidence-based answers to comprehend the rapid changes around the world. In the recent 3M State of Science Index 2020, based on pre-pandemic survey data, 62 percent of respondents agree that science is very important to society in general. Also, the study showed increased trust and appreciation of science from 77 percent, pre-pandemic 2020, to 84 percent, pandemic period 2020. These demonstrate the rise of confidence and reliance of the general population on science in the face of global crisis.

Despite accelerated efforts by research institutions and private companies across the world to develop treatments and vaccines against the COVID-19 disease, many countries are still facing second and third waves of COVID-19 cases. Developing a vaccine does not only involve the rigours testing during clinical trials, getting the vaccines out to the world in a timely and efficient manner is also paramount. In our Features section this month, we have an article contribution by Kawal Preet the President of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region for FedEx to discuss readiness in global transport of the COVID-19 vaccine. (p. 30) Discussing how biomanufacturers can embrace industry 4.0 is Pierre Kardasz, Regional Industry Manager, Asia-Pacific at Rockwell Automation. (p. 34) The end of the road for this pandemic might still be far, however, consideration should be made to the challenges a post-pandemic period could bring.

In the Columns section, we explore telemedicine and telehealth platforms as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to boost this area of medicine given the current need. Challenges of accelerated telehealth adoption during COVID-19 and what healthcare providers should do to sustain this new model of care as we move into the new reality of life with telehealth technologies were highlighted by Tim Morris, Commercial Portfolio and Partnership Director at Elsevier. (p. 22) George Lee, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, RSA dives in to the how telemedicine is changing the healthcare industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (p. 26) Also in the columns section, authors Dr William Tan and Mr Seo Tho Wee Siang give insights to liquid biopsy for genomic profiling. (p. 16)

In the Spotlights section, we share highlights from the APACMed Virtual Forum 2020 and discuss how technology is transforming the landscape of healthcare. (p. 40) Finally, we take a look at the Hong Kong Exchange and its strides towards increasing its biotech market cap in an editorial contributed by Vanessa Huang, General Partner at BVCF Management. (p. 38)

Deborah Emmanuel Seah Qing En