The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating personal and economic impact worldwide and there is an urgent need for governments, companies and individuals to play their part in helping to slow the spread, protect the vulnerable and minimise the human and economic toll.
Across our portfolios, there are a number of companies that are helping to play a crucial part, either by providing diagnostic tools, expanding their healthcare services, providing extra hand-washing and hygiene supplies or simply making sure we still have food available on our supermarket shelves. Below is a selection of the most notable examples:
- DiaSorin – an Italian-listed multinational biotechnology company that has successfully launched a rapid response (60 minutes compared to the current 5-7 hours) COVID-19 diagnostic test and are working on an antibody test, expected soon.
- Fisher & Paykel Healthcare – a New Zealand-listed manufacturer of products and systems for use in respiratory care, including breathing apparatus and masks. The company has ramped up their manufacturing output in order to meet the increasing global demand for their respiratory products that are directly involved in treating patients with COVID-19.
- CSL – an Australian-listed company with dominant market position in blood plasma biotherapies used for treating rare diseases, supporting organ transplants, and developing vaccines and anti-venom serums. The company is working as part of an industry alliance to develop potential plasma-derived therapy for treating COVID-19. They are also donating proprietary technology to the University of Queensland’s pre-clinical development program.
- Dr Lal Pathlabs – an Indian-listed blood testing and diagnostic laboratory chain which has been authorised for testing for COVID-19 in India.
- Philips – a Dutch-listed conglomerate that is increasing the production of certain critical care products and solutions to help diagnose and treat patients, including hospital ventilators, vital sign monitors, diagnostic imaging and medical consumables.
- Unilever – the UK and Dutch-listed consumer goods company is donating €100 million worth of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, as well as other product donations and handwashing education programmes at a national and local level. They are also offering€500 million of cash flow relief to support small and medium sized enterprises in their supply chain to help them with financial liquidity, and are extending credit to selected small-scale retail customers whose business rely on Unilever, to help them manage and protect jobs.
Of course there are many more examples of companies helping through their business-as-usual operations. These include Ain Holdings, the Japanese-listed franchisor of pharmacies and operator of drugstores, which provides access to consumer health and food products across Japan; Godrej Consumer, the Indian-listed consumer goods company, which sells health and hygiene supplies and also slashed the prices of their hand sanitisers; through to Neogen, the US-listed maker of food safety diagnostic tests, and animal health and hygiene products, including cleaners and disinfectants, for use in agricultural and food production settings. The EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) has approved four of their disinfectants to be used against Covid-19.
We trust these well stewarded companies will remain focused on the long-term and not exploit the obvious opportunity to put short-term profits ahead of patient and society welfare.
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