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How the pandemic affects progress in science

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How the pandemic affects progress in scienceBut whether it will still be! How will medicine change taking into account new trends in the coming years? Experts believe that soon we will see a further decline in the birth rate. The trend towards a more responsible attitude to one’s health will be strengthened, and trust in doctors will grow. In addition, the pandemic will contribute to the fact that the growth of drug consumption and the localization of pharmaceutical production in the country will continue.

One of the main trends of the pandemic is that people have become noticeably more interested in their health. The trend for a healthy lifestyle began to take shape several years ago, but the pandemic gave it a serious boost.

A large international study by Health Report, conducted among 30 thousand respondents in 15 European countries, in the spring of 2021, showed that people began to monitor their health much more closely.

The chief rehabilitologist of the city of Moscow, Professor Tatyana Batysheva told me that every second of her patients began to eat more correctly: “People began to take much more vitamins (primarily women). They have more responsibility for themselves. This is a completely new trend, which was not there before,” she says.

What is waiting for us within this trend?

“Medicine is becoming more preventive, people are trying to eat right, exercise, give up bad habits,” Anton Plotnikov, Chief Physician of three hospitals of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, tells me. – Devices that track health indicators are becoming increasingly popular: blood pressure, pulse, number of steps taken, hours of sleep, etc.

How the pandemic affects progress in science
Professor Tatyana Batysheva

Medical platforms are being created that monitor the main functions of a person at a distance. Medicine is being robotized, there are more and more robot surgeons. Of course, artificial intelligence is unlikely to replace a doctor, but it will allow you to unload the number of severe cases at the reception, in general, it will become easier for doctors to work.

Nevertheless, the pandemic has contributed to a decrease in the availability of medical care, especially of a preventive nature. According to Russian researchers, the number of people who postponed seeing a doctor has increased from 21 to 40%. According to gynaecologists, 82% of patients rescheduled or cancelled a doctor’s appointment, but 60% had requests for online consultations.

The flow of patients to therapists fell by 59%, and gynaecologists almost lost primary patients. But people began to appreciate the recommendations of doctors more, experts say. 54% of doctors surveyed in Russia indicated that the responsibility and compliance of patients with recommendations and prescriptions have been increasing over the past 3-5 years.

What awaits us in the future? More than 20% of people around the world have already come to terms with the fact that in the future they will have to constantly wear a mask (although almost 80% will still be happy to take it off). One-third of Europeans (especially women and the older generation) plan to keep the social distance.

The role of the doctor in society has changed, and the importance of his appointments has increased. It can be expected that as a result of this trend, the medical profession will become more and more prestigious. At the same time, doctors are heavily overloaded with paperwork. In this connection, market experts are waiting for the rapid robotization of this field of medicine, which will allow people in white coats to free themselves from routine.

The pandemic gave an impetus to the development of telemedicine. The demand for online consultations of doctors is growing all over the world. We see how the industry is flourishing right before our eyes. Many companies have announced free online consultations of doctors for all interested patients. Most clinics are also switching to the remote access mode. The transition of several employees to remote work has provoked the demand for remote consultations of doctors. And the demand, as it should be, generated a supply. However, in this regard, experts have a lot of concerns. For example, is it possible to allow doctors to prescribe medications, especially prescription ones, just based on online communication with a patient? The practice of other countries has shown that in almost half of cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics “on the Internet” without any reason.

For what indications can such consultation be carried out? For example, with pain syndrome, diarrhoea or paralysis, it is impossible to get a remote consultation anywhere. If you try to do this, the patient will be immediately redirected to the ambulance service. How will the number of diagnostic errors increase when communicating at a distance?

So far, they are only looking for answers to these questions. But only one thing is clear: telemedicine consultations have greatly tired people.

For example, in Russia, the number of patients who are ready to be treated online has decreased from 70% last year to 57% this year. Virtual interaction with doctors is most popular today in Spain and Poland (every third patient consults online) and least of all in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Russia (10% each).

Tatyana Batysheva suggests that people are tired of zoom and teams and the need for personal interaction with the doctor is becoming more urgent.

How the pandemic affects progress in scienceDuring the year of the pandemic, experts note a significant increase in the consumption of prescription drugs: according to a study by the analytical agency DSM Group, if in 2019 their share in sales was 20%, then in 2020 it reached 59%. At the same time, people often purchased prescription drugs on their own. This is not surprising: in the conditions of quarantine, many patients had to prescribe their own treatment.

Will this trend continue? “I think that this trend will continue. People have an Internet where they actively study information about drugs, often preferring prescription ones. We see that in the year of the pandemic, the demand for antibiotics, and even hormonal drugs, has sharply increased,” says Batysheva.

In addition, the trend towards localization of drug production has significantly strengthened and will continue to strengthen. This is a very important question. I believe that this problem will also affect Sri Lanka. The pandemic has clearly shown how important it is to have your own medicines, at least for vital needs. But the main revelation for many countries was that the pharmaceutical substances from which medicines are produced also need to have their own.

Until now, their main share was produced in India and China, however, when they closed the borders and stopped deliveries, even in the prosperous countries of the EU and the US realized that the whole world was facing a shortage of substances very close to the catastrophe. As a result, full-cycle pharmaceutical production began to be established in all countries. If we talk about the situation in Russia, from 2014 to 2020, more than 200 billion roubles (around 2.7 billion USD) were invested in the localization of pharma. More than 40 large foreign companies have been localized in the country.

And one last thing… The topic of women’s health is now arousing more and more interest, and the trend of feminization in medicine is already noticeable now. It is directly related to the trend of personalized medicine. Today, many studies are showing that some diseases have a gender face. Even the coronavirus — although, according to many data, men are more seriously ill with it, according to independent demographer Alexey Raksha, women were more likely to die from COVID-19 in Russia.

In addition, it is known that due to the peculiarities of the course of the disease, women are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed with a heart attack and 25% more likely to have a stroke than men.

In the future, doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers will have to take into account the peculiarities of the course of diseases in men and women even more carefully. For example, some Russian doctors urge us to take into account the peculiarities of the course of arterial hypertension in women and men when prescribing treatment. Therefore, experts predict the appearance of male and female tablets in the coming years.

The current trend towards feminization allows us to hope that in training courses for future doctors around the world, separate descriptions of certain diseases will appear, taking into account gender differences and, of course, studies that reflect the full picture.

The writer Dr. Farida Bondarenko, is a Consultant on Trade and Renewable Energy projects.

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