U.S., Other Nations Scramble To Procure Medical Equipment, Including Masks, Ventilators

Devex: USAID issues ‘urgent request’ for COVID-19 medical equipment
“On Monday, the U.S. Agency for International Development issued an ‘urgent request’ to its implementing partner organizations for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. ‘USAID has been asked to identify organizations that have personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies potentially available for use by the U.S. government in response to COVID-19,’ Matthew Johnson, communications director at USAID’s office of acquisition and assistance, wrote in the email, which Devex obtained. In response to multiple inquiries from Devex, the agency would not confirm whether those supplies are to be used in foreign countries where USAID operates or inside the U.S…” (Igoe, 3/31).

New York Times: Coronavirus Battle Creates a Global ‘Free-for-All’ to Find Masks
“…Global desperation to protect front-line medical workers battling the coronavirus epidemic has spurred a mad international scramble for masks and other protective gear. Governments, hospital chains, clinics, and entrepreneurs are scouring the world for personal protection equipment they can buy or sell — and a new type of trader has sprung up to make that happen…” (Bradsher/Yang, 4/1).

NPR: U.S. Buys Masks From China While Criticizing It For COVID-19
“While Secretary of State Pompeo denounces China for its handling of what he calls the ‘Wuhan virus,’ the U.S. is racing to acquire medical masks and other protective equipment from China…” (Northam, 4/1).

ProPublica: Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas.
“Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tried to plug a crucial hole in its preparations for a global pandemic, signing a $13.8 million contract with a Pennsylvania manufacturer [– a subsidiary of the Dutch appliance and technology giant Royal Philips N.V. –] to create a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilator that could be stockpiled for emergencies. This past September, with the design of the new Trilogy Evo Universal finally cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, HHS ordered 10,000 of the ventilators for the Strategic National Stockpile at a cost of $3,280 each. … An HHS spokeswoman told ProPublica that Philips had agreed to make the Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator ‘as soon as possible.’ However, a Philips spokesman said the company has no plan to even begin production anytime this year. Instead, Philips is negotiating with a White House team led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to build 43,000 more complex and expensive hospital ventilators for Americans stricken by the virus…” (Callahan et al., 3/30).

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