India has been impacted severely by the second wave of COVID-19 infections since April 2021. Cases, hospital admissions, and fatality numbers were significantly higher this time (two to threefold) than in the first wave in 2020. The Indian healthcare industry faced new challenges such as inadequate oxygen supply and shortages of certain covid-related drugs in dealing with the pandemic. The vaccination program also could not be ramped up as needed across the population segments due to restricted availability and supply. With the severe second wave, lockdowns in civil society returned, and the focus within healthcare primarily shifted to management of the pandemic.
Similar to the previous wave, management of regular healthcare needs has suffered. OPD's, elective surgery, follow up of NCDs, etc. have all shown a sharp decline. Teleconsultation and telemedicine have received a fresh impetus with more consumers resorting to digital technology for management of their health needs. The need to seriously address the fundamental challenges of low healthcare spending, infrastructure, and resource scarcity in a planned manner is now even more clear and will need urgent Government attention and resources.
From an investment perspective, the healthcare industry in India continues to remain attractive. Returning economic growth, the large growing middle class, underserved populations, along with increased penetration of insurance and policy support will ensure attractive growth opportunities. COVID-19 has brought health security to the forefront of priorities for the industry, policy makers, and patients alike. We expect the sector to witness sustained growth in the medium- to long-term.