COVID-19 Impact on the Hepatitis Testing Market
The COVID-19 outbreak had a negative impact on the hepatitis testing market due to decreasing patient visits to hospitals. The pandemic has put significant strain on healthcare systems. Healthcare institutes and providers were instructed to stop performing elective surgical procedures and medical examinations to slow the spread of the disease and conserve healthcare resources for COVID-19 patients. As a result, many hepatitis testing clinical laboratories experienced a rapid decline in testing volume.
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a significant decline was observed in hepatitis C testing across the US. The results from the research article—Decreases in Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic—indicated antibody tests for HCV declined by 59% in April 2020 and rebounded to a 6% decline in July 2020. In comparison, HCV RNA-positive tests declined by 62% in March 2020 and 39% in July 2020.
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Global Hepatitis Testing Market Dynamics
DRIVER: High burden of hepatitis
Hepatitis is a major public health concern with a high prevalence rate worldwide, despite significant improvements in treatment options, vaccination coverage, and public awareness. Of all the hepatitis types, B and C are the most prevalent and contribute toward higher mortality rates. In 2019, an estimated 296 million and 58 million people were living with chronic HBV and chronic HCV infection, respectively. In underdeveloped countries, the prevalence of hepatitis is high as compared to developed countries
RESTRAINT: Lack of mandates for nucleic acid tests in developing countries
In developing and low-resource countries, NAT is not mandatory due to the expensive nature of this test and the requirement of skilled personnel. In India, by 2016, only 58 out of a total of 2,550 (~2%) blood banks performed NAT for hepatitis diagnosis. In many developing countries such as India and China, ELISA is the only mandatory test, which acts as a major inhibitor for the adoption of NAT. In India, blood screening involves serological testing for hepatitis surface antigens; however, there are no mandates for using NAT. As a result, there is a lack of clarity about results among people undergoing hepatitis diagnostic tests, which acts as a restraint for market growth.
OPPORTUNITY: Growth in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries
The demand for immunoassay instruments and consumables is high in the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. As a result, the growth of these industries is expected to support the growth of the hepatitis testing market during the forecast period. In these industries, the growth of the end-user base has compelled many companies to launch new products and invest in developing advanced products. This is considered a positive indicator for market growth as immunoassays are applied at many stages— from product development and manufacturing to quality control—in production.
CHALLENGE: Operational barriers
Clinical laboratories across major markets are still evolving; technicians face operational challenges in ensuring effective sample procurement, storage, and transportation, especially while adopting novel technologies such as NGS and lab-on-a-chip PCR devices. Laboratory space also needs to be reconfigured to meet the requirements of conducting specific molecular diagnostic tests used for pathogen detection as a means of avoiding cross-contamination and ensuring efficient time management.
This results in considerable cost escalation to maintain and operate advanced molecular diagnostic instruments, particularly those capable of handling a single sample type. Furthermore, due to the rapid mutation of microbes and the increasing outbreak of epidemics, clinical laboratories need to adopt innovative technologies capable of rapid sample diagnosis. However, the shortage of skilled and technically knowledgeable laboratory technicians to operate advanced hepatitis testing products has hindered their overall adoption, particularly in emerging markets.
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North America was the largest regional market for hepatitis testing market in 2020.
The global hepatitis testing market is segmented into North America (the US and Canada), Europe (Germany, the UK, and the Rest of Europe), Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World. In 2020, North America dominates the global market, and this trend is expected to continue during the forecast period. The large share and high growth of this region can be attributed to the rising prevalence of hepatitis and increased research and clinical trials for hepatitis testing in the US.