PPE supply to healthcare sector hard hit by Covid

23rd October 2020

PPE supply to healthcare sector hard hit by Covid

PROTECTION ORDER The increased demand for personal protective equipment in the medical sector has brought about notable short- and long-term changes in the value chain

An infographic on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the healthcare sector, in which the effects imputable to the Covid-19 pandemic were highlighted, has been published by market research company Frost & Sullivan.

The infographic named ‘Impact of Covid-19 on demand for PPE in the healthcare industry: Growth Opportunities in an Era of Change’ was released in April.

The infographic states that Covid-19 is impacting the availability of PPE for the healthcare industry value chain in the short term and also in vastly transformative ways.

Short-term and direct responses that aim to cater to the current crisis and enhance availability of PPE for the healthcare industry include major PPE players ramping up local production to try and meet the growing demand.

Further developments include relaxation on export controls on masks, goggles, gloves and other PPE, to the benefit of several Asian countries to date, particularly China.

However, demand is overwhelming and capacities are falling short, consequently, various government agencies have begun further relaxing import controls to ease supply challenges.

The drivers for long-term change and transformation are very strong and the current Covid-19 pandemic could enhance the speed of change.

The changes mentioned include the strategic stockpiling of critical PPE supplies, which will grow multifold to address any such eventualities in the future, ensuring steady demand in the next 18 to 24 months.

Distribution strategies for the healthcare industry may witness changes including the growth of industrial PPE companies catering to healthcare PPE and the other way around.

The industry has also experienced a substantial growth in indigenous manufacturing capacities to reduce dependence on imports, promoting the growth of new entrants and allowing for an increase in merger and acquisition activities.

Global Efforts

The current global Covid-19 outbreak has created an unprecedented demand for healthcare PPE products such as face masks, gloves, coveralls, gowns, goggles, and face shields.

Although manufacturers are scrambling to scale up their production capacities in Europe and North America, they are realising that this is not an easy task.

The main reason being that 60% to 70% of Europe and North America production is outsourced to Asian countries.

In the initial stage, the Covid-19 outbreak in China created huge demand for PPE in the local market resulting in disruption in the supply chain for other countries.

With the spread of Covid-19, the global demand has sky-rocketed and the supply chain has just not been able to meet this demand.

Most in demand products are face masks, coveralls, gowns, and gloves. PPE supply companies like 3M, Ansell, DuPont, Honeywell Safety Products, Kimberly-Clarke Corporation, Lakeland, Moldex-Metric, and others are rising to the occasion and making huge efforts to meet this demand.

In the US, federal agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration, has waived some requirements through Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow use of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved products in an effort to increase availability of critical PPE for healthcare workers.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted, in March, saying a chronic, global shortage of PPE is one of the most urgent threats to the world’s collective ability to save lives.

He pointed out that the WHO had shipped almost two-million protective gear items to 74 countries and was at that point preparing to send a similar amount to 60 more countries, but that much more is needed.

“This problem can only be solved with international cooperation and international solidarity; when healthcare workers are at risk, we’re all at risk.”