Rich Countries Get Supplies, but Poor Ones...

Workers at Frankfurt Airport unload boxes of protective masks delivered from Shanghai. March 25, 2020. Image: Thomas Lohnes/Getty
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Workers at Frankfurt Airport unload boxes of protective masks delivered from Shanghai. March 25, 2020. Image: Thomas Lohnes/Getty

Wealthy countries are throwing their weight—and cash—around in the global scramble for masks, gloves, gowns, and test kits. 

Manufacturers have told researchers in Latin America and Africa that they won’t get test kits for months because the US and Europe are vacuuming up all available supplies, The New York Times reports. The head of UNICEF supplies has only found about 1/10th of the 240 million masks that poor countries have requested.

With the global supply chain overwhelmed, leaders of “every country” are personally calling manufacturers to demand access, the Times reports.

“When it comes to the sharp end of a hypercompetitive environment with price rises, these low- and middle-income countries are going to end up at the back of the queue,” said Paul Molinaro, WHO’s head of supply and logistics.

Making things worse: Countries are shutting down exports of medical goods. By March 21, more than 50 governments had done so, according to NPR. And others are hoarding essential materials like pulp for surgical masks.

The supply disaster is putting doctors, nurses and others at risk—leaving them boiling with anger at government leaders, STAT reports.  

How bad is the lack of supplies? In just 2 large health care systems in Michigan, 2,200 employees either have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive, CNN reports.

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2 comments

Arthur BAX
April 10, 2020

Please note that the number of casualties per country should be determined on an equal basis. The Health institute of the Netherlands (the so-called RIVM) is reporting the number of deaths in hospitals only while the Belgian Government is reporting the number of deaths in hospitals and rest homes as well. The figure of today (i.e. 3019) contains 57 % deaths in hospitals and 40 % deaths in rest homes. In the international survey of the US university, only 1734 deaths should be reported. Otherwise, the results are not comparable with those of other European countries.

Sci Cath
April 12, 2020

Do we know what inventories of PPE different Hospitals had in January for example. I find it hard to believe they didn’t have 6 month supply in their warehouses. So this “PPE shortage” scare maybe internally and artificially created.

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