2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as being the year the world as we know it was crushed by a new coronavirus, thought to have emerged from Wuhan, China, last December. Just 11 months later, around 1.5 million people were recorded as having lost their lives to COVID-19, with millions more left struggling in its wake. Death, lockdown, isolation, furlough, redundancy, PPE, tiers, sanitiser, testing, R numbers and support bubbles are just some of the terms that will forever be synonymous with 2020, depicting a level of bleakness which no-one could have predicted.
However, the darkness also allowed some of the more laudable aspects of humanity to shine brighter, such as the collective recognition and celebration of healthcare workers as superheroes, the banding together of communities to protect their vulnerable, and the linking of academia and industry in a fervent race to find a vaccine, which now seems close to the finish line (see page 7).
Similarly, the healthcare and life sciences sectors quickly had to adapt to a seismic shift in operation necessitated by the pandemic, but this has also had the effect of vastly accelerating progress in certain areas that should ultimately benefit patients, as shown by some of the articles in our Review of the Year. For example, on page 13 John Pinching touches on how the coronavirus has jolted pharma into making digital a force for good, while the team at Wilmington outline how COVID-19 has jump-started the NHS Reset and brought forward changes laid out in the NHS Long Term Plan (p18). Jenny Ousbey also describes the impact of 2020 on the patient experience and how advocacy addressed new challenges (p26).
As 2020 draws to a close, it remains to be seen when the pandemic will end allowing life to begin a return to ‘normal’. However, with several vaccines in late-stage development, as well as a huge spectrum of other treatments designed to boost the chance of surviving COVID-19, it is my hope that this time next year we will find ourselves in an altogether more positive position.
A new, pooled analysis of data from Novo Nordisk’s Phase III trials SUSTAIN 6 and PIONEER 6 shows that semaglutide may help patients with type 2 diabetes live longer without a cardiovascular event. PharmaTimes talks to lead study investigator Dr Jan Westerink about the importance of these findings