TheNFAPost Podcast

Bengaluru, NFAPost: Covid-19 vaccine has just been deployed across the subcontinent as the health tech startups gear up for the logistic challenges with the distribution network across the country.

Role of Tech Startups in Fighting the Pandemic

Delhi-based health-tech entrepreneur, 1mg Founder and CEO, Prashant Tandon explains that the ability to fight the pandemic depends on the resilience of the delivery platforms as getting logistics right would be critical to their success. He adds that it is really important to nurture unflinching partnerships and collaborations across industries and government regulatory agencies.

Tandon points out his company’s digital health platform 1mg (an IFC investee) which has made significant contributions at the time of a global pandemic. He recalls how 1mg entered into mission mode when the government imposed a strict lockdown in India as its delivery drivers and front-line workers brought medicines to customers’ doors and collected samples for a range of lab tests.  

Role of 1mg to Combat Covid-19

As the pandemic progressed, 1mg took active part in boosting telemedicine services to patients while also collaborating with government regulatory agencies to clarify guidelines for e-pharmacies.

With third-party logistics not readily operational in several geographic areas, the company sought delivery partners for strengthening its distribution network while also setting up a cold-chain infrastructure for Covid-19 vaccines.

 Responding to COVID-19 in a country of over 1.3 billion people is forcing 1mg to rethink its core strategies—because this is a significant and important global disruption, not a one-time spike, said Tandon. 1mg is focused on how to integrate technology into health-care services and related logistics to better track, monitor and deliver medicine and health products.

“Right now, there’s almost no traceability,” Tandon said. “Things like soap and matchboxes have bar codes, but not medicines. When it comes to something as important as vaccines, we need an entirely traceable supply chain so we can be confident and comfortable.”

As with 1mg, many other startups in the region are remaking themselves to respond to diverse COVID-19-related logistics needs. In India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, it is an “opportunity for local logistics networks to compete in local markets,” according to Omera Khan, a Professor of Supply Chain Management at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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