Many conditions and diseases are more likely to occur at an older age. Lifetime risk factors, the deterioration of the body and immune system, and a lack of diet and fitness regiments all add up to a greatly increased risk of diseases such as cancer. While society is making leaps and bounds in medical advancements, new treatment methods and life prolonging procedures invented in the biotech industry take an enormous amount of funding. In Canada, the very rapidly aging population is especially in need of biotech advancements – now more than ever.
As a country, Canada’s aging population has caused it to rise within the top 25 for oldest median age of any country at 41.5, in 2013 (Source: Central Intelligence Agency). This figure is much higher than the US at 37.2. In 1971, the median age of Canadians was only 26.2 years. This means that the age has increased by 37%, since that time. Between 2011 and 2031, the population of Canadians age 65 and over is expected to increase from 14.4% to 22.8% of the nation; a telling sign that Canadian citizens are getting older. While aging is obviously a part of life, the issue is that this is the fastest growing age group. (Source: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada). This means that Canada currently has one of the oldest populations in the world.
With such a heavy burden on the economy, workforce and healthcare system, this large portion of the population requires increased levels of care and treatment. In Canada, this helps to explain the boom in seniors’ homes and assisted living facilities by almost 40%, between 2001 and 2011 (Source: Statistics Canada). The country also now has the highest number of seniors per capita that we have ever had. In the same census, it was found that the 60-64 age group is the fastest growing in Canada, with those over the age of 100 showing up as the second fastest growing group.
However, Canada is also 180th in birthrate, with only 1.59 per couple (Source: Central Intelligence Agency). Globally, the fertility rate is quickly decreasing, in industrialized countries. These areas are projected to have a further sharp decline in fertility rates, over the next 50 years. This indicates that Canada’s population will continue to get older, while having less young people to support the country economically. The replacement rate is the number of children that need to be born, in order to replace the aging workforce. For nations like Canada, that number is approximately 2.1 or 2.2: well above the country’s current fertility rate.
As McGill University economist Christopher Ragan puts it, governments (especially Canada’s) need to adjust financial planning, with spending cuts and increased taxes: “the longer we delay the adjustment, the more debt we incur — the more we are putting the burden of adjustment on … the young people of today.” However, for the biotech and larger medical sectors, this will require a sizeable increase in the required funding for new treatment research and delivery methods. With a drastic increase in at-risk populations, the need for biotechnical advancements has never been greater.
While skin cancers like melanoma are rapidly increasing in young populations, those above the age of 64 are most at risk. At OncoSec, our research targets late-stage skin cancers predominantly found in these aging population groups. We will continue our efforts to develop new, novel treatments to the forefront, in order to potentially increase the effectiveness of these types of cancer treatments. We believe the investment community is coming to understand the increased need for innovation in the biotech industry and the importance of life science developments, in order to properly care for the aging population we must support.