(Natural News) As the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread and kill throughout China, American health officials are becoming increasingly worried that the disease will blossom into a pandemic on U.S. soil.
And if that happens, they aren’t sure there will be enough supplies to handle the number of people sickened by the virus, in part because a lot of supplies U.S. health authorities need are made in China.
Or, at least, they were before much of the workforce became quarantined and their factories idled.
As reported by The Epoch Times, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is already monitoring medical product supplies for possible disruptions caused by the virus outbreak amid a “chronic shortage” of supplies already.
In some parts of the country, for example, there are already shortages of masks — which are in short supply globally as well, because of the spread of the virus.
“We are proactively reaching out to manufacturers as part of our vigilant and forward-leaning approach to identifying potential disruptions or shortages,” Stephan Hahn, FDA commissioner, said in a statement on Friday.
Hahn added that officials won’t sit around waiting for makers of drugs and devices to report shortages — that U.S. health officials are already game planning for them.
He said the U.S. has been in contact with hundreds of medical device and drug makers “to assess and monitor for indications and early warning signs of potential manufacturing discontinuances or interruptions due to the outbreak.”
In addition, the FDA is also working with global regulatory bodies and manufacturers to try and figure out what the most pressing supply issues and concerns are in relation to raw materials that originate in China.
Clearly, U.S. officials are concerned the Wuhan coronavirus is likely to gain a foothold.
‘Patients are on edge’
In her notes, FluTracker.com’s Sharon Sanders highlights how the CDC now suspects that the incubation period for the novel coronavirus could actually be 24 days instead of 14 days, which is something we also reported.
The CDC is also sending test kits all across the country, though this could turn out to be mostly useless as these test kits were found recently to produce lots of false negatives.
Already, there are signs that medical equipment and devices are running short. The Epoch Times reported that 96 percent of pharmacists in the U.S. are reporting selling surgical masks faster than they can restock them. Nearly 40 percent added they cannot obtain enough respirator masks, according to a recent survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association.
Many pharmacists are also reporting shortages of gloves, hand sanitizers and surface sanitizer compounds.
“Patients are on edge and they are preparing,” said the association’s president, Brian Caswell, in a statement, the Times reported.
CDC officials said last week that some of the agency’s partners were alerting officials that higher-than-usual demand for face masks and N-95 respirators was occurring at an increasingly rapid pace. This, despite the fact that the agency is recommending no one wear masks unless they’ve got the virus or are under suspicion of having contracted it and have been in contact with other people.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s top official, also said that the agency has been in regular contact with healthcare industry partners, equipment makers and distributors to keep track of protective gear supplies.
But, as the World Health Organization’s chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters last week, there is a “chronic shortage” of such equipment.
“We’re sending testing kits, mask, gloves, respirators, and gowns to countries in every region. However the world is facing a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment,” he said, noting that demand for equipment was 100 times more than normal.
Shortages are likely to continue, however, as long as Chinese manufacturing is stunted due to the outbreak.