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The pandemic: Consequences, side-effects and new insights

Anders Blanck and Ketil Widerberg
The Nordic life science industry has not only survived, but managed to grow and develop during the pandemic. The past 1.5 years have also brought valuable lessons, including the importance of collaboration and how to shorten development pathways in other areas too. Since February/March 2020, the pandemic has turned societies all around the world upside down. Countries have temporarily shut their borders, entered lockdowns, imposed limitations on gatherings, and healthcare systems have been brought to their knees. Almost 4.5 million people have lost their lives [Johns Hopkins, August 26 2021]. This fall, more and more of us are being vaccinated, but many countries are also facing a fifth wave of the pandemic. It is far from over, both when it comes to global health, and also when it comes to recovering our economics and societies. Nordic efforts The global life science industry has played a very important role during the pandemic, and delivered treatments, tests, and not least, vaccines in record time. In the Nordic region, the innovation capacity and willingness to deliver and aid has also been high among life science actors. "We have seen the true value of innovation clusters as resilient ecosystems where scientists, companies, hospitals, and investors connect." “We have seen the true value of innovation clusters as resilient ecosystems where scientists, companies, hospitals, and investors connect,” describes Ketil Widerberg, General Manager, Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC), and CEO, Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator. “From telecom company Telenor and University professor Arnoldo Frigessi’s work on mobile data to predict the geographical spread of COVID-19, to infection control equipment, like Epiguard’s medical isolation and transportation systems.”     At OCC Incubator, Ketil and his colleagues have converted three meeting rooms to new advanced cell labs for research, partly as a response to the shortage of labs following the pandemic. “It is all about speed, how to transform an idea into a product that helps patients,” he says. Anders Blanck, CEO of the trade association for the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden (Lif), says that during the entire pandemic their members have been able to successfully do their main task, i.e. to supply important medicines and vaccines to patients and Swedish healthcare. “Lif and our member companies have had close cooperation with authorities, regions and other actors during the entire crisis in order to assist Swedish healthcare. During the initial phase in particular, where the demand for certain pharmaceuticals
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