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While much of Asia has started gradually returning to some form of post-pandemic normalcy over the past year, at the time of writing China still had shown no signs of loosening its rigorous “COVID Zero” policies. Mass testing, strict local lockdowns and the virtual closure of its international borders appear set to continue well into 2023.

COVID-19 has become an engrained feature of everyday life and close to three years after the Wuhan outbreak some things remain the same and others have changed – perhaps the single biggest difference has been a strategic shift in many countries to various attempts to “live with the virus“.

Ian Haydock
Editor-in-Chief, APAC

The afterglow of the pharma industry’s central global role in combating SARS-CoV-2 with vaccines and drugs is also gradually fading – along with emergency government funding - but the multiple changes and challenges wrought by the pandemic on the industry roll on.

Supply chain disruptions, moves to repatriate manufacturing and wider adoption of remote and digital tools in product development and commercialization are just some of the results still playing out, which in many cases look set to become more permanently embedded in standard practices.

Meanwhile, equitable access to what looks likely to be a steady procession of follow-on vaccines targeting dominant variants remains a key issue globally, one moving into the spotlight again around the monkeypox outbreaks.

Besides the ongoing pandemic response and impact, the APAC biopharma industry has been pursuing business as usual. While there have been no landmark M&A deals over the past year, China has continued to emerge as a hotbed of rising innovation, with mRNA becoming the trending new area alongside the increasingly crowded immuno-oncology space.

Alongside the country’s independent push into global markets – albeit with some major road bumps in the US – its R&D capabilities are also being increasingly tapped by western big pharma, although cooling investor sentiment may mean a more inward-looking deal-making environment.

Elsewhere, India continues to progress its vaccines sector across multiple fronts, while its generic firms face rising pricing pressures in the US. South Korea moves steadily down the path to more innovation and globalization, and while it has long been a mature market, Japan remains a key part of the regional picture, making moves to support homegrown vaccines and drugs for future pandemics.

As always, we hope the carefully curated selection of data, insights and analysis in this year’s Scrip Asia 100, which includes content from across our on-the-ground team, will help you make sense of this large, diverse and complex part of the pharma world.