Adding to the wide-scale human suffering across Ukraine, Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is causing a major disruption to both medical as well as agricultural supply chains in the region and worldwide.
As Russia’s war destabilizes the lives of millions of Ukrainians, it also destabilizes the welfare and wellbeing of many millions more whose livelihoods are impacted by the looming supply chain catastrophe. Like many sectors worldwide, the biotechnology sector is stepping up to assist the Ukrainian people, all while navigating the effects of the conflict on the sector as a whole.
The conflict ‘defies international law, norms, and modern sensibilities’
The biotechnology sector is shining a light on the suffering of the Ukrainian people and calling for donations of much-needed medicine and medical equipment.
“The conflict in Ukraine and violence from Russia defies international law, norms and modern sensibilities,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. “Unfortunately, those suffering the most are individuals and families across Ukraine as they endure tremendous hardship and threats from immediate military attack, as well as interruptions to their ongoing medical treatments.”
BIO, along with many of its state affiliates, joined an effort led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, to collect corporate donations of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment—learn more.
A looming supply chain crisis
As far as the severity of its ongoing and future impact, the war in Ukraine is now considered the top risk to the stability of global supply chains, per Moody’s.
The impact on medical supply chains, already underway, will come as a result of Ukraine’s and Russia’s airspaces being inaccessible, as well as rising fuel prices. In addition, price fluctuations for key raw materials in medical supply production as well as the potential for cyberattacks from Russia or affiliated non-state actors on major healthcare systems could also prove challenging.
As for the effects of the conflict on the global agricultural sector, more than 10 percent of the world’s wheat comes from Ukraine, as does 15 percent of the world’s corn – which has impacted the biotechnology sector as European ethanol prices recently reached a two-month high. Adding in the sanctions on Russia and the aforementioned airspace restrictions, Russia’s and Ukraine’s combined share of the global wheat market comes in at over 30 percent and the two countries also make up 80 percent of the world’s sunflower oil supply. Ultimately, the long-term impact on world food supplies could prove catastrophic for global hunger as global supply chains are already strained and in the process of recovering from the impact of COVID-19.
Biotech firms call for action
The CEOs of biotechnology firms and investors signed a letter at the end of February calling on the industry to act and condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“In short, this is a criminal act deliberately committed by Russia. Its ramifications are far-reaching and touch the entire globe,” wrote the signatories of the letter.
Signatories include CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics Paul Hastings as well as President and CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics, Dr. Ted Love, and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics, Dr. Jeremy Levin, among others.
Ultimately, the world likely has yet to see the very worst of this conflict’s impact on global markets. U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken recently stated that it “is likely to get worse before it gets better.”
While life across many parts of the world is returning to some semblance of pre-COVID-19 normalcy, the humanitarian and supply chain crises as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine are just beginning. The biotechnology sector, just like the rest of the global economy, is bracing for the hardships to come, and also proud to do its part in attempting to assist the Ukrainian people in their moment of need.