General Partner & CEO at Pegasus Tech Ventures | Chairman of Startup World Cup. (アニス・ウッザマン )
You’ve seen the Covid-19 pandemic turn the world upside down, especially in the healthcare sector. The industry worked hard to retain employees, keep them safe and deliver high-quality care to hospital and clinic patients around the world. While this deadly crisis continues, the pandemic also paved the way toward innovative ways of delivering care and the development of sophisticated technologies, as providers sought to deliver effective vaccines and tests quickly.
Let’s review some of the key developments that I expect to see during 2022. These are important for executives, startups and investors to understand as they design their business and investment strategies in the upcoming year.
Innovation In mRNA Vaccine Development & Covid-19 Tests
The pandemic motivated scientists and healthcare professionals to become more cooperative and innovative than ever before. After first studying the virus itself, they worked together to design mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine.
Because the vaccines were shown to be effective, companies worked to produce large amounts of the vaccines quickly. What’s more, they collaborated with governments and nonprofit organizations to organize widespread distribution.
More recently, we’ve seen Pfizer and BioNTech SE launch a clinical study to understand better omicron-based vaccines in healthy adults. This may help indicate the future need for more variant-based vaccines. Just announced in January 2022, the study is designed to determine how effective an omicron-based vaccine is and how to be prepared to deal with other variants that might arise in the future. While vaccine development might have been considered a sleepy industry in the past, pharmaceutical companies now realize that innovation is critical as we prepare for what may happen next.
Despite a population of 1.4 billion, China did not initially agree with new Covid-19 vaccines, instead relying on inactivated vaccines to achieve a full vaccination rate of 87.6% in mainland China, according to Bloomberg. Since then, China developed its own mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, one that The Lancet reported in January 2022 to be effective and safe in early trials in healthy adults aged 18-59 years. This will likely help the country reopen its doors to the world at some point.
Innovation such as this not only helps save human lives but also creates business opportunities. BCC Research reports that the global market for mRNA therapeutics “should grow from $46.7 billion in 2021 to $101.3 billion by 2026, at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8% for the period of 2021-2026.”
The Evolution & Growth Of Telehealth
What was once a necessity during the Covid-19 pandemic—maintaining social distance, even for non-urgent healthcare needs—is evolving into a telehealth revolution. Doctors, nurses, therapists and other providers are using two-way technologies more than ever to provide healthcare remotely. Consumers and healthcare providers are more open-minded about using telehealth, even though privacy and security are ongoing concerns. Changes in the regulatory environment have also enabled telehealth growth.
McKinsey & Company reports that telehealth peaked in April 2020—at levels 78 times higher than in February 2020—and has since stabilized. Its new level is still 38 times higher than pre-pandemic levels, higher than many experts ever expected.
U.S.-based Teladoc Health is one company that offers customers whole-person virtual care—including mental health—striving for positive patient outcomes by combining technology with research insights and human expertise. TytoCare, based in New York and Israel, is an on-demand medical exam company, offering home medical kits as a replacement for in-person doctor visits.
Innovation In Personalized Medicine & Genetics Technology
I’m also intrigued by the growth in personalized medicine, facilitated by new ideas in genetics technology. In the past, drugs, medicine and even patient treatment were developed with a one-size-fits-all approach. Solutions were developed to help most patients, even if some patient needs were not addressed.
Today, modern genomics helps make it possible to tailor medicines and treatments to the individual patient, based in part on the makeup of their DNA. Dr. Eric Green, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, reports that the first genome cost about $1 billion. Today, the cost is less than $1,000. I expect that dramatic savings like this will keep driving the growth of personalized medicine for years to come.
The startup 23andMe, which is a part of my company’s portfolio, brings data analysis to the consumer’s doorstep, making complex medical information easy to digest for patients. 23andMe has pioneered direct access to genetic information as the only company with multiple FDA authorizations for genetic health risk reports.
Color, another company found in our portfolio, is a genomics health service that helps you understand your genetic risk for common hereditary cancers, heart diseases and medication response. Color’s testing kits provide medically actionable results that can be used to create a personalized screening and management health plan. Helix is a population genomics firm, focused on advancing genomics research and integrating genomic data into everything healthcare. It’s currently working to expand access to molecular Covid-19 testing.
Innovation Driving Results
You can see in these trends how healthcare innovation seeks to drive results in order to positively impact both patient health and business opportunity around the globe. I expect that vaccine development, telehealth and personalized medicine are just the tip of the iceberg as we look at ways to bring more innovation to the healthcare marketplace. There’s a prime opportunity for investors, executives and startup founders to understand these trends and capitalize on them. Success will inspire innovators in the healthcare sector to achieve even more in the future.
The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.