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Healthcare’s big reboot

Covid-19 could prove to be a catalyst for a long overdue shift in global pharmaceuticals
Healthcare’s big reboot

Britain’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been repeatedly compared with the second world war. The financial measures initiated by the government reflect steps taken to protect the economy from the challenges of war. NHS and care workers have been likened to soldiers, battling the enemy on the front line. Even the Queen took inspiration from 1940s morale-boosting techniques when she assured the locked-down public that “we’ll meet again”.

Perhaps the metaphor has been overworked, but in drawing comparisons with wartime Britain, policymakers can learn a great deal about rebuilding in the wake of catastrophes. And nowhere is that more pressing than in the healthcare industry.

In 2020 the UK is a hub of scientific excellence – as was the case in the 1930s. Our universities are teeming with the type of knowledge that has already led to huge progress in coronavirus testing techniques. Researchers have created a test that extracts virus DNA and can confirm a patient’s diagnosis within four hours (standard testing normally takes more than a day to return results). A spin-out from the University of Cambridge has launched a point-of-care testing pack that can confirm infection within 90 minutes. And a team of tech developers has created an app that detects the ‘sounds of coronavirus’ – uneven breathing and coughing.

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