Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

COVID creates a shortage of medical supplies that lack the vast array of US medical items

COVID creates a shortage of medical supplies that lack the vast array of US medical items

Sept 20, Shortages of masks and gloves that marked the start of the COVID-19 pandemic spread to several other medical facilities in the United States, from exam tables, heart defibrillators to crutches and

Among other things, it can take up to five months to get some types of exam tables, for instance, compared to three to six weeks before the pandemic, according to CME Corp, an agro-pharmac

Despite the supply chain stress caused by COVID, almost everything is delayed, said Cindy Juhas, chief strategy officer for the CME. A lot of the stuff that we sell isn't sitting in a warehouse where you call and say send it over. It needs to be built.

But the production behind shortages of raw materials, such as plastics, metals and glass, have hampered production.

In the case of exam tables, the shortage of electronic controllers, metal, and even the foam padding used to build them are hampering producers, Juhas said.

The shortfall, which coincides with the hospital staffing squeeze forcing some facilities to ration care during the latest surge in COVID cases, is part of a large supply chain disruption that has snarled the movement of

In many cases, producers are waiting for parts or finished goods made overseas which are delayed or waiting in jammed seaports. Last week, the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach announced that 60 containers vessels were waiting for the unload of their goods from the coast.

The auto industry is perhaps the most visible example of how the economy and the consumer are raging - with car lots with cars waiting for scarce computer chips outside many factories filled with vehicles waiting waiting to buy scarce computers.

The rise of tariffs fueled fears about a wave of sustained inflation.

The CME, located in Warwick, Rhode Island, closely monitors its 100 biggest suppliers and sees the prices increase from 3 to 20 percent from the start of the year, depending on the item. Several producers have hiked prices three times this year, said Juhas. Prices rise occur only once as soon as the beginning of the year.

Many of the items in short supply have nothing to do with treating COVID. At CME, heart defibrillators that had to take two weeks to deliver now require three months.

She said she wished for all the parts, so they put them together and put it on a truck. "But now they are just waiting for parts."

Even mundane items are snagged. Portable plastic toilets are back-ordered three to four months now, used in hospitals to ensure patients don't have to walk to the bathroom. Juhas said she expects the larger supply chain to be able to continue until next year.

And thats with a lot of luck, she added, and with COVID getting under control.

To be sure, some backlogs are easing. In early the pandemic, the demand for special refrigerators and freezers that would allow the storage of vaccines began to fall into a tidbit of aging, prompted producers like Horizon Scientific Inc., which The refrigerators are distributed by CME.

Brian Shaffer, the company's marketing and business development manager, said it takes three months to deliver its larger, 30-foot-sized vaccine refrigerators. This is about double what the firm would like. "We still struggle a little because of the components that are in them," he said.

But delivery of smaller vaccine refrigerators, which are in demand now for doctors and pharmacies now, are back to normal and can be shipped in five or 10 days.

You may also like: