PISC Internal Advisory Board Member, Rachel Werner, PhD, along with Tara Lagu, MD, and Andrew Arenstein, MD, cover the current covid-19 related PPE shortages in Why don’t hospitals have enough masks? Because coronavirus broke the market. Months into the current pandemic front-line health-care workers still don’t have enough personal protective equipment to keep them safe from infection, The shortage has led health systems to resort to unusual means to obtain essential protective gear. Lagu, Werner, and Arenstein liken the pressure on the health-care supply chain to pressures other industries have faced during the pandemic, except these pressure have dire consequences.
Despite these future shortages becoming clear by late January, production cost, limited capacity, and halted importation from hotspots meant healtprepare.h systems could not prepare. Lagu, Werner, and Arenstein state that, "market failures we have observed during the pandemic were predictable given current medical supply-chain processes, but they were not inevitable. And it’s not too late to address them. There are several possible short-term solutions, including use of the Defense Production Act, reduction of regulatory barriers, and increased transparency around inventory." In the longer term, the government may need to subsidize the market to maintain a more constant supply of the medical supplies needed during a pandemic. In closing, they explain that without strong federal response “Wild West” scenarios are likely to continue as health systems vie for supplies.