Shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Shortages of medical materials, manufacturing and consumer goods caused by the COVID-19 pandemic quickly became a major issue worldwide, as did interruptions to the global supply chain,[1] which has challenged supply chain resilience across the globe. Shortages of personal protective equipment, such as medical masks and gloves, face shields, and sanitizing products,[2] along with hospital beds, ICU beds, oxygen therapy equipment, ventilators, and ECMO devices were reported in most countries.

Surgical and N95 masks shortages have been critical in the early pandemic, resulting in purchase quota, non-availability, lower-than-required protections and tarmac airport biding wars.

Human resources, especially medical staff, may be drained by the overwhelming extent of the epidemic and associated workload, together with losses by contamination, isolation, sickness,[2] or mortality among health care workers. Territories are differently equipped to face the pandemic. Various emergency measures have been taken to ramp up equipment levels such as purchases, while calls for donations, local 3D makers,[2][3] volunteer staffing, mandatory draft, or seizure of stocks and factory lines have also occurred. Bidding wars between different countries and states over these items are reported to be a major issue,[4][non-primary source needed][5] with price increases,[4] orders seized by local government, or cancelled by selling company to be redirected to higher bidder.[4][5] In some cases, medical workers have been ordered to not speak about these shortages of resources.[6]

With unmitigated ICU needs estimated at 50 times[7] the available ICU beds and ventilators in most developed countries, public health advocates and officials encouraged citizens to flatten the curve by social distancing. There have also been calls to increase healthcare capacity[8] despite shortages.


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