The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our daily lives in unimaginable ways, leaving little doubt as to how unprepared we were. Our Achilles’ heel is our reliance on other countries — especially China — for many of our drugs and medical supplies. Now we must take evasive action to protect American patients and health care professionals from the consequences of remaining medically dependent on China. One solution may be right in front of us — or, rather, south of us.
The pandemic has brought to the fore the drug and medical supply shortages surgeons have experienced in operating rooms for years. The United States imports almost half of its personal protective equipment (PPE) from China, Financial Times reports. This includes masks, face shields, disposable gowns, and gloves. Unsurprisingly, these items were no longer available once China realized it was facing an epidemic.
To help meet the shortage, 3M, an American company, committed to President Trump that it would ramp up production of N-95 masks. The problem? These are produced in China by 3M’s partner company. The Chinese Communist Party essentially nationalized production of PPE and stopped the export of this equipment.