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article imageWHO warns of global medical equipment shortage over coronavirus

By Karen Graham     Mar 4, 2020 in Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday warned of a global shortage and price gouging for protective equipment to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus and asked companies and governments to increase production as the death toll mounts.
At a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that even though the mortality rate from COVID-19 is 3.4 percent, far above the seasonal flu's fatality rate of under i.0 percent, the virus can be contained.
"To summarize, COVID-19 spreads less efficiently than flu, the transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, it causes more severe illness than flu, there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be contained," the WHO chief said, according to the New York Times.
The virus has infected over 93,000 people and killed at least 3,200 since it was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year. It has now spread to more than 75 countries and territories, according to CTV News Canada.
During the news briefing, WHO chief Ghebreyesus noted that the organization estimates that about 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves, and 1.6 million goggles will be required globally for health care workers to respond to the outbreak.
It is because of this impending shortage that WHO is asking that countries and companies increase their production of these needed medical supplies by at least 40 percent.
"Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other front line health care workers dangerously ill-equipped," said Ghebreyesus. "The WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting."
The WHO said it is working with governments, manufacturers and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network, an organization within the World Economic Forum.
The Global Pandemic Supply Chain Network was formed in response to lessons learned from the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak and discussions that followed at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2015, where the need for a collaborative, multi-stakeholder response became clear.
The founding members of the Network, representing the public sector, include WFP, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank, and representing the private sector, Henry Schein, Inc., Becton, Dickinson & Co., and UPS Foundation.
Price gouging is despicable
Across the United States, shoppers have been clearing out shelves at local drug stores and supermarkets of face masks, hand sanitizers, hazmat suits and other items to protect against the coronavirus. This surge in demand has created an opening for third-party sellers on various e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay to make a lot of money.
Iranians have taken to wearing face masks to protect themselves from the virus
Iranians have taken to wearing face masks to protect themselves from the virus
Some dubious third-party sellers have flooded online marketplaces with overpriced goods and items that make unproven medical marketing claims. CNBC found products like face masks with markups as high as 582 percent.
Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Etsy are among the online platforms that have been hit with price gouging or misleading medical products. All of the companies say that this activity isn’t allowed on their platforms and that they’ve removed listings or suspended sellers that violate their policies. As an example, last week Amazon removed more than 1 million products for violating its policies related to price gouging and coronavirus claims.
Amazon also sent out a notice to European sellers warning against mentioning the terms “Covid-19” and “Coronavirus” in their listings, according to a document obtained by CNBC. “In this situation, we invite you to behave in good faith and to keep customers’ trust, as well as to comply with the Business Solutions agreement and Amazon policies,” the notice states.
Additionally, last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was monitoring the market for any products that make fraudulent coronavirus prevention and treatment claims.
More about Medical Equipment, World health organization, shortages', price gouging, Pandemic Supply Chain Network
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