Diseases in Thoughts from the Centre
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By Pratik Avhad, Senior Analyst, and Maria João Cruz, PhD, Assistant Research Manager, Centre for Health Solutions
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 218 million cases and over 4.5 million COVID-related deaths have been reported worldwide, numbers that continue to grow.1 As long as the SARS-CoV-2 virus is in circulation, it will have an opportunity to mutate into potentially more infectious strains and remain an ever-moving target. Vaccines are an essential tool in the arsenal to combat this pandemic.2 To date, six vaccines have been approved for emergency or full use by at least one WHO-recognised stringent regulatory authority. All have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and COVID-related death.3 Vaccine developers are using a variety of technologies and techniques from the tried and tested to completely novel approaches. The first vaccine to receive emergency approval was a first-in-class synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine4, making RNA a household word. Even though mRNA technology itself is not new, its clinical reality is still nascent and this blog explores its concept and considers what future uses might emerge.
By Leena Gupta, manager, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Deloitte Services, LP
Next week will mark a full year since the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, over 116 million cases have been reported globally and around 2.6 million people have lost their lives.1 In addition to its mounting human and societal impact, COVID-19 has significantly impacted most businesses and sectors, including the biopharmaceutical (biopharma) industry. This week, we share a blog by our colleague Leena Gupta, Manager at the US Center for Health Solutions, which explores how the pandemic has impacted biopharma’s various functions across the value chain and the strategies that have been adopted to help the industry respond and, ultimately, thrive. While Leena’s blog and research focussed on primarily on US policies, there are wider lessons that all geographies could benefit from. Over to Leena.
By Lukasz Kaczynski, Senior Manager, Monitor Deloitte Switzerland, and Patricia Gee, Director, Monitor Deloitte Switzerland
February 28 2021 is the 14th International Rare Disease Day. To mark the occasion communities from across the world come together to raise awareness among the public and policy makers about rare diseases and their impact on the lives of patients and families.1 Rare diseases are heterogeneous in nature, and geographically disparate, few are preventable or curable, most are chronic and progressive, and many are life-threatening. While there is no universal definition of rare diseases, in 2019, a comprehensive research study of the Orphanet database2 estimated that there are some 6,200 rare diseases affecting some 3.5 to 5.9 per cent of the global population, a total of approximately 263 to 446 million people. Around 72 per cent of these rare diseases are genetic with 70 per cent starting in childhood.3 Today, transformative cell and gene therapies (CGTx), with the potential to address and often eliminate the underlying cause of a genetic disease, bring hope to patients and families affected by rare diseases.
By Samrina Bhatti, Manager, and Krissie Ferris, Research Analyst, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness was already recognised as a significant public health issue with government publishing the world’s first strategy to end loneliness, ‘A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness’ in October 2018.1 According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are nine million lonely people in the UK, four million of whom are older people.2 Throughout the pandemic, measures such as lockdowns, shielding, and limiting contact with others while essential to help stop the spread of the virus, have left millions more dealing with loneliness, social isolation and lengthy separations. This week’s blog therefore, explores how COVID-19 has influenced the scale and extent of loneliness and the actions needed to help improve future health outcomes and reduce demand on health and care services.
By Karen Taylor, Director, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions
Earlier this week I joined my fellow Insight Leads as a panellist on a Deloitte Academy virtual event discussing ‘The Year Ahead’.1 My remit was to discuss the current extent and mitigations of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the next 12 months might unfold. Unfortunately, the past month has seen a sharp rise in cases across many countries and the introduction of more severe restrictions. In the UK we have seen the continued escalation in the number of people testing positive, the NHS under more intense pressure than at any other time during the pandemic. The UK has also seen the rollout of two approved vaccines and a third national lockdown. My expectations for the year ahead reflect this increasingly complex and rapidly evolving situation and the developments likely to affect public health during 2021.
By Fraser MacDonald-Lister, Analyst, Human Capital, and Jack Hilton, Consultant, Enterprise Technology and Performance
December is upon us and, around the world, thousands of men are left with cold upper lips where a charity moustache once grew. Movember, the leading global organisation committed to changing the face of men’s health, is about much more than just facial hair and fundraising, they are working around the world to grow awareness of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.1 This year, more than 150 Mo Bros, Sistas and Supporters from Deloitte UK took part in the follicular festivities, raising awareness and funds for the charity whilst sparking many conversations across the virtual office.
Wake me up when September ends: my reflections on the search for a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, in honour of World Alzheimer’s Month
By Dr Francesca Properzi, PhD. Research Manager, Centre for Health Solutions
Since 2012, September has been celebrated as World Alzheimer’s Month, and this year’s theme is 'Let's talk about dementia'. This is clearly much needed, especially as one person is diagnosed with dementia every three seconds.1 As a neuroscientist, I spent more than 10 years leading a research lab dedicated to finding new approaches for diagnosing and treating neurodegenerative diseases at the Italian Institute of Health in Rome. I also had first-hand experience of the disease, as I had originally accepted that position and left my job in London, to take care of my father, who was himself fighting dementia. Those years have shaped me greatly both personally and professionally and, as September coincides with my last month at the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, I am delighted to use this blog to provide my reflections on the challenges presented by Alzheimer’s disease and to consider what more needs to be done to expedite progress in identifying treatments and ultimately a cure.
By Maria João Cruz, PhD, Research Analyst, Centre for Health Solutions
In early May, we published a blog about the race for a COVID-19 vaccine.1 At the time, biotech and biopharma companies together with research organisations and academia had commenced the development of some 110 potential vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Notable features of the race include the unprecedented acceleration in the pace of R&D and the significant scale of collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders across multiple geographies.2 By the end of August, there are 203 vaccine candidates under development. Six have already reached Phase III or II/III clinical trials, the last stage of clinical development before vaccines can obtain regulatory approval (see Figure 1).3,4 This was achieved in only few months, rather than the years it would normally take.5 Importantly, the COVID-19 vaccine developers are using a variety of technologies and techniques, ranging from the tried and tested to completely novel approaches. This blog explores the different approaches being used for obtaining an approved and licenced vaccine.
By Francesca Properzi, PhD, Research Manager, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have serious and far reaching consequences for the health and wealth of our population. As countries begin to move into the recovery phase, there is an urgent need to learn the lessons from local, national and international responses. A critical feature of the past four months has been an explosion in the scientific data and literature exploring how and why the pandemic has evolved and what impact is it having. This data suggest the virus is highly discriminatory and that in addition to the underlying health and age of individuals, deprivation and population density are crucial causes of higher mortality rates. What is currently less evident are insights on what we could have done to be better prepared and how we can be better prepared next time? This week’s blog provides ‘my take’ on how improving the immune health of vulnerable populations has a pivotal role to play.
By Steve Burrill, vice chairman, US Health Care Leader, Deloitte LLP
This week we wanted to share with you one of the insightful blogs from our colleague in the US on the impact that COVID-19 is having on their healthcare system; and which first appeared as a US Center for Health Solutions ‘Health Forward’ blog on 28 May. While the image of empty hospitals, healthcare job losses and funding challenges aren’t things we expect to see in the UK, the description of the reality of the past three months for healthcare staff on the front-line, and how to address the growing backlog of deferred medical services, does resonate. Moreover the main thrust of the blog, on the four key areas of healthcare that COVID-19 is likely to change in the ‘future of health’, is something we do expect to see happening across the UK and Europe and, likewise, we expect this to happen much more quickly than we might previously have predicted.