Research reveals attitudes to Covid-19 treatment in the UK 

Pharmaceutical companies must keep improving Covid-19 treatments in line with new variants without sidelining work in other areas of health, according to new data from YouGov and Informa Pharma Intelligence, a provider for the biopharma industry.  

The report 

This data, included in Informa Pharma’s ‘Q4 2021 Clinical Trials and the Covid 19 Landscape’ report, is said to capture UK adults’ perceptions of innovation in the pharma industry as well as attitudes towards current Covid-19 treatment options.  

The findings 

The report showed three major findings:  

  1. More innovation is needed by big pharma:
    Over half of the population (55%) expect pharma and biotech companies to keep working together to continue developing better and more effective Covid-19 treatments and preventive care, with 39% of the population believing that a better Covid-19 vaccination will be available in the near future. However, nearly a third (32%) are concerned that Covid-19 is causing researchers to sideline other key drug treatments/innovations unrelated to Covid-19. 
  2. Britons fear Brexit is the top impediment that could threaten access to medicine
    Access to medicine was considered to be the next UK health crisis, according to the report findings. The data found that the most cited causes for concern are Brexit/border issues (53%), heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver shortages (48%), GP (general practitioner) waiting times (42%), NHS appointment backlog (41%) and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (36%). In Northern Ireland, this rises to 69% who are worried about Brexit threatening access to medicine and prescription drugs. 
  3. Awareness of the process of innovation in healthcare is growing
    Members of the general population revealed that their understanding of how vaccines/treatments are developed and distributed (34%), approved (34%) and the use of clinical trials (31%) has increased since the start of the pandemic. However, understanding of what mRNA vaccines are and how mRNA vaccines work is low at just over a quarter (27%) of respondents.  

Official Comments 

Daniel Chancellor, Thought Leadership Director at Informa Pharma Intelligence, said: “Over the last two decades, the number of treatments being designed using RNA technology have been slowly rising but were not widely known outside of scientific circles. The pandemic has changed this, as both industry and public recognition of the new vaccine class has grown, and the mRNA pipeline itself has tripled since 2019 to become one of the hottest areas of drug development.  

“Excitingly, the application of mRNA technology extends to the development of treatments for diseases that have evaded scientists for some time — take cancer or HIV, for example. Whilst the development of these is still in its infancy, highly specialist platform biotech companies are likely on a trajectory to producing effective vaccines across a range of new diseases.” 

Further observations 

The report data recognises the aforementioned advances of the mRNA pipeline, with half (50%) of UK adults believing that Covid-19 has forced pharma companies to speed up their pace of innovation in treatment.   

UK adults’ expectations for pharma and biotech companies in the future are that they will keep working together to speed up the pace of innovation in other areas (such as cancer and infectious diseases) (50%) and think they need to play a stronger role in tackling vaccine inequity (28%). 

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