“Over the past two decades, US health care has come to rely heavily on international suppliers, especially in China, for thousands of essential products, from surgical gowns to syringes. In fact, as of 2019, the US was the largest importer of medical goods — including of personal protective products — in the world.
Over the past few months as the pandemic raged, most US hospitals and health systems have responded by turning to domestic suppliers. They are more reliable given the difficulties with transportation and trade, which have become worse since the pandemic began.
This trend is likely to continue, as hospitals and health care systems try to ensure that they have a steady supply of essential products.
But this new domestic strategy has a particular disadvantage: In general, it is much more expensive. And this puts hospitals — and, potentially, their patients — in greater financial jeopardy.”
“In February, to ensure that the country had adequate domestic supply, the Chinese government took over the production and distribution of medical products. China was not the only country to do this, but because it is a leading global supplier of so many health care products — personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, medical devices, antibiotics, and pharmaceutical ingredients, to name a few — the decision had major consequences. In 2019 alone, China supplied a quarter of the entire globe’s face masks.”