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How will Covid-19 impact jobs in life sciences?

09/07/20
The past four months have seen almost every industry worldwide turn on its head. Covid-19 has seen furlough schemes, redundancies and a downturn in economies – yet there are some sectors that are thriving in the wake of the pandemic. With enormous global efforts to discover and produce a vaccine and treatment for the virus, many life sciences professionals have been working overtime to contribute to a brighter future. However, this shift of attention towards Covid-19 has meant some projects and R&D have been put on hold. So what does this mean for the life sciences industry, and those who work within it?

Life science organisations band together to fight Covid-19


There’s no denying that the life sciences sector is playing a major role in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. There are incredible examples of companies putting projects on hold and repurposing facilities and staff to focus on vaccine and cure efforts, both within the UK and further afield. The Association of British HealthTech Industries, BioIndustry Association, British In Vitro Diagnostic Association and British Generic Manufacturers Association put out a call to action in April to encourage the nation’s life sciences sector to play as big a part as possible in fighting Covid-19, while GSK and Sanofi announced their intention to collaborate on a vaccine in the same month.

Such close collaboration and knowledge sharing between rival firms may have been unheard of in the past, but the universal goal of fighting the pandemic is clearly shaking up traditional structures and encouraging closer working within the sector. This is further evidenced by the consortium of companies working in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, including Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gildead, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Sanofi. It’s unprecedented collaboration in response to an unprecedented situation, and is creating interesting new environments and opportunities for life science professionals.

Projects on hold


While it’s all hands on deck when it comes to fighting coronavirus, some existing projects within life sciences and pharmaceuticals have been put on hold. Industry insiders have warned that those companies not currently working on pandemic products and projects risk having their research and clinical trials delayed, as investor confidence wanes and attention shifts towards vaccines. Pharma and medtech R&D have already been hit, with professionals adjusting to reduced lab capacity and home working in some instances, while clinical trials have also been disrupted thanks to difficulties keeping existing patients on therapies and enrolling new ones. In April, there were more than 2,850 trials and 900,000 patients enrolled at trial sites in areas in some level of Covid-19 lockdown, showing just how widespread the disruption has been.

What we should see leaders do next is adapt operations for a recovery and build for the new normal, according to McKinsey, moving resources away from crisis management and back to regular projects and R&D.

Life science job opportunities in a post-Covid landscape


The regulatory side of life sciences has experienced a huge uptick as a result of the global crisis, with new regulatory guidance and parameters released on an ongoing basis to support the rapid response of the industry. As such, we’re already seeing high demand for roles within quality, compliance and regulatory affairs. Some regions have seen increases in demand for life sciences professionals, with Cambridge’s life sciences and technology sectors propping up the rest of the city’s job market, while Cardiff is pushing ahead with a life sciences innovation park with space for up to 2,000 jobs. Firms with expertise in production have pivoted to address pandemic shortages such as PPE, with the likes of Johnson & Johnson using their 3D printing abilities to manufacture ventilator parts. This means professionals within engineering, manufacturing and facilities are in high demand.

More broadly in life sciences we’ve seen extraordinary demand for nurses and doctors, epidemiologists and laboratory workers, which may be ongoing as work continues to find a cure for Covid-19.

Find your next life sciences job with Orion


At Orion Group, our Life Sciences division has a specific focus on identifying and attracting talented professionals within pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and clinical research. We pride ourselves on finding the best opportunities for our candidates and clients. View our latest life sciences jobs here or find out more about finding a job with us.
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