21-day lockdown – Possible impact on pharma supply chain

Lockdown is necessary to break the chain of coronavirus

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The Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced the central government’s nationwide lockdown for 21 days in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Modi ordered all 1.3 billion people in the country to stay inside their homes for three weeks starting Wednesday.

While addressing the nation through television on Tuesday, the prime minister said, “There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes. Every state, every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown from Wednesday midnight for 21 days.” This announcement gave Indians less than four hours’ notice before the order took effect at 12:01 am. Earlier also, on 19 March 2020, the prime minister implored all citizens of India to observe a self-imposed ‘curfew’ from 7 am to 9 pm IST on Sunday, 22 March 2020, to help reduce the community spread of the coronavirus disease in India.

Lockdown – A need of the hour

Though the number of reported coronavirus infections in the country is relatively low compared to other nations, including Italy, the United States, Europe or China, if the situation is not kept under control, it would lead to a disaster far bigger than anywhere else.

The total number of reported cases in the country till today is 562, and 10 deaths have been reported due to pandemic. The prime minister also stressed that ‘social distancing’ is the only way to control the spread of the highly contagious infection. He said, “Today India is at the stage where our actions today, will decide to what extent we can bring down the impact of this disaster. If India does not handle these 21 days well, then our country will go backward by 21 years.” According to him, the 21-day lockdown is very necessary to break the chain of coronavirus pandemic.

Disruption in the pharma supply chain

The prime minister also mentioned in his address that during the period of lockdown, goods and services would keep on running. However, the ground reality is a bit different. The 21-day lockdown is hindering the availability of essential goods and medicines across offline and online channels. On the other side, India’s pharma companies are in a panic mode and fear drug and ingredient shortages, as the nationwide lockdown has led to disruption in the supply chain of medicines. According to a report in the Economic Times, there have been instances where policemen on duty are restricting people and goods from reaching their intended destinations. In addition, the restriction on public transport and private vehicles is making it tough for workers to reach manufacturing plants. The reduced number of the workforce at the production plants is, in turn, impacting the production of essential drugs and other healthcare utilities.

Major stakeholders in the pharma and healthcare sector told the Economic Times that they were facing issues getting materials necessary to run manufacturing plants (for example, coal, packaging supplies, raw materials, and more) at the right place as the vehicles are being detained in transit. The workers are finding it difficult to reach their workplaces as they are not getting transport. Some reported that they could not lift their materials as it required individual permissions from the government.

The situation is tough for everyone at this moment, but there is hope that the need will generate new ideas to tackle these problems in the supply chain and facilitate the smooth flow of essential goods.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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Technical Editor - Mandeep Kaur is working with IPP Group and holding editorial responsibilities for the IndiFoodBev and PSA Healthcare platforms. Earlier she handled editorial responsibilities of food, beverage, and agriculture publications at another publisher. A gold-medalist in M Tech (Food Technology), she has hands-on experience in operating different types of instruments related to physico-chemical testing of grains and flour. She has worked at Evalueserve in the Intellectual Property (IP) division for more than three years handling projects in the life sciences domain.

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