by Carl Feinberg, CEO Critica PPE
The COVID-19 pandemic has done far more than inflict a health crisis on the world. Its enormous ripple effects will reverberate for years to come. And it has created a crisis of confidence in our domestic PPE supply chain.
Confidence in PPE product reliability has faltered while delivery uncertainties compound the problem which translates into significant supply shortfalls. GetUsPPE, a non-profit dedicated to tracking PPE supplies, estimated the supply shortfall at 80% in September 2020, which was up from 77% in August of this year.
Unnati Gupta with GetUsPPE.org recently noted that “with unreliable international supply chains affecting the ability of healthcare centers to meet the required amount of PPE, people are looking to domestic production of masks to fill the countrywide N95 mask shortage. However, despite promises from government officials, healthcare centers are still scrambling to meet mask requirements.” And the trend line is anything but encouraging even today.
Over the past few decades, our domestic economy has become increasingly dependent upon manufacturing capabilities and supply chains located in other countries. When a disruptive event, natural disaster, or emergency strikes, we discover the frailty of our international relationships and the vulnerabilities of global supply chains that limit the availability of critical PPE.
The economy of the USA became so intertwined and dependent upon this global value chain that when it broke, the USA supply chain broke as well. We realize to our dismay that these vulnerabilities can bring our nation and economy to a screeching halt and gravely jeopardize everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Seeing the opportunities crisis presents and seizing them are two different things
The pandemic has prompted a fundamental rethink of the merits of globalization, given our vulnerability to supply interruptions. The pandemic is driving repatriation of manufacturing and sourcing as we recognize the value of self-sufficiency — with PPE among the most prominent examples.
It’s clear we need to shift from globalization’s singular focus on efficiency and cost minimization. The good news is these changes represent tremendous opportunities we can seize upon. Secure domestic supply chains are no longer solely a matter of national pride or nationalist sentiment. There are lives at stake.
But that still leaves us with lingering questions. How can we address these changes in the USA and what corrective actions will enable us to adapt to this pandemic era and beyond?