China’s Covid Surge Threatens Disruption of US Medical Supply Chain

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According to NBC News, despite being unconnected, the United States suffers from a shortage of pediatric drugs, such as analgesics and antibiotics. When questioned about the new sickness outbreak in China, U.S. government officials and medical suppliers said they were closely monitoring the situation but had not found any shortages.

Officials from the Biden administration have claimed that unlike in the early phases of the epidemic, they foresee minimal shortages due to government steps to boost U.S. supplies and corporate moves to reduce their reliance on China.  

“We’re looking closely at potential early warning indicators in the medical supply chain for any disruption,” a senior administration source said. “At this point, we have not detected any existing or foreseeable delays, at least in the flow of drugs or devices or supply of PPE,” notwithstanding the situation in China.  

The impact of China’s newest Covid wave, according to healthcare experts and supply chain specialists, may take months to work its way through the supply chain, even if U.S. officials have little visibility into the pandemic’s trajectory in the coming weeks owing to a lack of data from China.

Concerns regarding China’s diminished industrial capacity due to shutdowns caused by the country’s zero-Covid policy have remained throughout the epidemic. “This is that sort of activity on steroids,” said Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. So far, this has been the most severe issue with the Chinese pandemic supply chain.  

Electronic components utilized in cutting-edge medical gadgets and generic medications such as antibiotics and blood thinners may become scarce. The Biden administration has spent the last two years working to improve the domestic medical supply chain in the United States. However, its efforts have been impeded by the high expenses, stringent restrictions, and complicated structure of healthcare delivery.

According to Douglas Kent, the Association for Supply Chain Management’s senior vice president of corporate and strategic partnerships, moving intellectual property to a specific manufacturer or costly factory manufacturing is challenging. This is especially true for mission-critical components such as integrated circuits in the pharmaceutical business.  

According to a White House supply chain study from 2021, imports of medications and active pharmaceutical components from China cost the U.S. $3.2 billion in 2020. This group comprised chemo, birth control pills, and traditional treatments like antibiotics and antidepressants.

China is home to more than 20% of the factories producing a specific type of anesthetic and more than 25% of the facilities producing active ingredients in blood thinners for the United States. According to the study, China is the leading source of pharmaceutical raw materials that are ultimately exported to the United States from nations such as India and Europe.  

Over the last year, hospitals in the United States have seen several supply chains delays due to China’s Covid rules, which caused plant closures and hampered the transportation of goods throughout the country. In the spring of 2016, a G.E. a factory that produced an imaging agent required in the therapy was shut down for several weeks, limiting the number of medical scans doctors could do.



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