Shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Medical materials and other goods shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic quickly became a major issue of the pandemic.

Quotes[edit]

  • We caution hospitals, health systems, and individual practitioners that no medication has been FDA-approved for use in COVID-19 patients, and there is no incontrovertible evidence to support off-label use of medications for COVID-19. Stockpiling these medications—or depleting supplies with excessive, anticipatory orders—can have grave consequences for patients with conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis if the drugs are not available in the community. The health care community must collectively balance the needs of patients taking medications on a regular basis for an existing condition with new prescriptions that may be needed for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Being just stewards of limited resources is essential.
  • The scale of the plague is surprising, indeed shocking, but not its appearance. Nor the fact that the U.S. has the worst record in responding to the crisis. [...] Market signals were clear: There’s no profit in preventing a future catastrophe. [...] The government could have stepped in, but that’s barred by reigning doctrine: "Government is the problem," Reagan told us with his sunny smile, meaning that decision-making has to be handed over even more fully to the business world, which is devoted to private profit and is free from influence by those who might be concerned with the common good. The years that followed injected a dose of neoliberal brutality to the unconstrained capitalist order and the twisted form of markets it constructs. The depth of the pathology is revealed clearly by one of the most dramatic — and murderous — failures: the lack of ventilators that is one the major bottlenecks in confronting the pandemic.
  • One effect is the shockingly belated and limited testing, well below others, making it impossible to implement the successful test-and-trace strategies that have prevented the epidemic from breaking out of control in functioning societies. Even the best hospitals lack basic equipment. The U.S. is now the global epicenter of the crisis. This only skims the surface of Trumpian malevolence, but there’s no space for more here. It is tempting to cast the blame on Trump for the disastrous response to the crisis. But if we hope to avert future catastrophes, we must look beyond him. Trump came to office in a sick society, afflicted by 40 years of neoliberalism, with still deeper roots.
Anthony Fauci: The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else… Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks.
LaPook: You’re sure of it? Because people are listening really closely to this.
Fauci: …There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.
LaPook: And can you get some schmutz, sort of staying inside there?
Fauci: Of course, of course. But, when you think masks, you should think of health care providers needing them and people who are ill. The people who, when you look at the films of foreign countries and you see 85% of the people wearing masks — that’s fine, that’s fine. I’m not against it. If you want to do it, that’s fine.
LaPook: But it can lead to a shortage of masks?
Fauci: Exactly, that’s the point. It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it.
  • Yet, while we rightly point to the lack of ICU beds, ventilators, and trained medical staff across many Western states, we must recognize that the situation in most of the rest of the world is immeasurably worse. Malawi, for example, has about 25 ICU beds for a population of 17 million people. There are less than 2.8 critical care beds per 100,000 people on average across South Asia, with Bangladesh possessing around 1,100 such beds for a population of over 157 million (0.7 critical care beds per 100,000 people). In comparison, the shocking pictures coming out of Italy are occurring in an advanced health care system with an average 12.5 ICU beds per 100,000 (and the ability to bring more online). The situation is so serious that many poorer countries do not even have information on ICU availability. [...] Of course, the question of ICU and hospital capacity is one part of a much larger set of issues including a widespread lack of basic resources (e.g., clean water, food, and electricity), adequate access to primary medical care, and the presence of other comorbidities (such as high rates of HIV and tuberculosis). Taken as a whole, all of these factors will undoubtedly mean a vastly higher prevalence of critically ill patients (and hence overall fatalities) across poorer countries as a result of COVID-19.
  • The President has been very, very hands on in this. He’s really instructed us to leave no stone unturned. Just this morning — very early this morning — I got a call from the President. He told me he was hearing from friends of his in New York that the New York public hospital system was running low on critical supply. He instructed me this morning. I called Dr. Katz, who runs the system, asked him which supply was the most supply he was nervous about. He told me it was the N95 masks. I asked what his daily burn was. And I basically got that number, called up Admiral Polowczyk, made sure we had the inventory. We went to the President today, and earlier today, the President called Mayor de Blasio to inform him that we were going to send a month of supply to the New York public hospital system, to make sure that the workers on the frontline can rest assured that they have the N95 masks that they need to get through the next month. We’ll be doing similar things with all the different public hospitals that are in the hotspot zones and making sure that we’re constantly in communications with the local communities.
  • One thing I will say, just based on data, is that we’ve been getting a lot of data from different governors and from different mayors and from different cities. One thing I’ve seen FEMA do very, very well, over the last week or so, is now we’re getting real-time data from a lot of cities. People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections, which are not the realistic projections. The projections change every day as we see the cases, as we see the impacts of the "stop the spread" effort that this task force recommended and the President has been pushing forward. So I do think that we’ll see that. Hopefully, there’ll be impact of that. And the task force has been working very hard, through the FEMA group, with Admiral Polowczyk to make sure that we’re getting the supplies to people before they run out, and making sure that we’re doing it in a proper way.
  • Three years ago, experts were saying that bat coronaviruses could become a new pandemic. Almost two months ago, experts were saying that the new virus in Wuhan was potentially a global threat. One month ago, experts were saying that it was likely to be pandemic, and the White House's response was that this was under control, despite the fact that the US's lack of testing was demonstrably giving a false picture of the extent of infection. This was foreseeable, and foreseen, weeks and months ago, and only now is the White House coming out of denial and heading straight into saying it could not have been foreseen.
  • The Pakistani government does not seem willing to shift its spending priorities despite the burgeoning COVID-19 challenges. [...] Moreover, there is a significant shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators in the country. Despite all this, Islamabad allocated $7.85bn for defence and merely $151m for health in the budget for the financial year 2020-2021.
  • Donald Trump: And you have to understand: When we took over, the cupboards were bare. And the thing that — frankly, it’s not as tough as the ventilator situation. We’re the king of ventilators. But what we have done is — on testing, we’re doing numbers the likes of which nobody has ever seen before. And I told you, the President of South Korea, President Moon, called me to congratulate me on testing. And we did more tests than any other country anywhere in the world. And I think they told me yesterday a number — if you add up the rest of the world, we’ve done more testing. And it’s a higher quality test. So I think we’ve done a — I think the whole team, federal government — we built hospitals for you and others.
Phil Murphy: You bet.
Donald Trump: We built medical centers. And I’m talking about thousands and thousands of beds. Many, many medical centers. We had — as you know, we had the governor of Florida and the governor of Louisiana over the last two days. They could not have been — and one was a Democrat, and this gentleman happens to be a proud Democrat. They could not have been more supportive of the effort of the federal government. And I’ll tell you, Jim —
James Acosta: But aren’t you seeing massive lines for food?
Donald Trump: Let me just tell you, we have — we started off with empty cupboards. The last administration left us nothing. We started off with bad, broken tests and obsolete tests. What we’ve come up with, between the Abbott Laboratories, where you have the five-minute test. Did they test you today?
Phil Murphy: They did test me.
Donald Trump: Good. Now I feel better. (Laughter.)
Phil Murphy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m negative.
Donald Trump: You did the five-minute — the Abbott test.
Phil Murphy: I did the quick turnaround.
Donald Trump: It’s so great.
Phil Murphy: I feel like a new man.
Donald Trump: That’s a brand — you know what? That’s a brand-new test. That didn’t exist eight weeks ago, and now it’s like the rage. Everybody wants that test. No, I think we’ve done — I think we’ve done a really great job.
  • ​In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, I focus criticism on capitalism and the vulnerabilities it has accumulated for several reasons. Viruses are part of nature. They have attacked human beings—sometimes dangerously—in both distant and recent history. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed nearly 700,000 in the United States and millions elsewhere. Recent viruses include SARS, MERS and Ebola. What matters to public health is each society's preparedness: stockpiled tests, masks, ventilators, hospital beds, trained personnel, etc., to manage dangerous viruses. In the U.S., such objects are produced by private capitalist enterprises whose goal is profit. It was not profitable to produce and stockpile such products, that was not and still is not being done. Nor did the U.S. government produce or stockpile those medical products. Top U.S. government personnel privilege private capitalism; it is their primary objective to protect and strengthen. The result is that neither private capitalism nor the U.S. government performed the most basic duty of any economic system: to protect and maintain public health and safety. U.S. capitalism's response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be what it has been since December 2019: too little, too late. It failed. It is the problem.
  • Alternative systems—those not driven by a profit-first logic—could manage viruses better. While not profitable to produce and stockpile everything needed for a viral pandemic, it is efficient. The wealth already lost in this pandemic far exceeds the cost to have produced and stockpiled the tests and ventilators, the lack of which is contributing so much to today's disaster. Capitalism often pursues profit at the expense of more urgent social needs and values. In this, capitalism is grossly inefficient. This pandemic is now bringing that truth home to people.

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