From one extreme to the next: once the memes and the jokes were quickly run into the ground and the enormity of the coronavirus outbreak set in, the world was thrust into a state of mass panic.
While a healthy amount of caution is called for — recommended even — people went overboard with even that, and their paranoia led them to start stocking up for a disaster akin to the apocalypse itself.
Coupled with the fact that one of the global market leaders in China (ground zero of the epidemic) was essentially crippled by COVID-19 and the rest of the world following suit, the world is now in stage two of a global pandemic: the shortage of supplies.
As it currently stands, the world is facing a shortage of basic need supplies that include — but are not limited to — medicinal supplies, sanitary products, masks, groceries, fuel, and the kind.
As mass quarantines have pretty much been mandated and social distancing still being preached as the most effective means of delaying the inevitable, the global shortage is only going to get worse.
COVID-19 Triggers Shortage Of Masks
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, masks were the first medicinal supply to be in short supply. The virus has been known to be transmitted via respiratory droplets, and the most efficient means to stop inhaling the virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) would be to use a mask.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an increase in the demand for personal protective equipment equivalent to 100 times than what the previous records showed. Medical personnel and vigilant citizens were the first to stock up on supplies that led to a global shortage of masks.
But contrary to popular belief, the shortage was not of the flimsy paper masks, but rather the N-95 hard-domed respirators of the kind surgeons use.
Shortage Of Basic Supplies Amidst COVID-19 Fears
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to tear a hole through the delicate balance between the supply and demand chains, the world faces a shortage of basic supplies like food, toiletries, medicine, and fuel.
Social isolation is the order of the day, and citizens are advised from straying from large congregations of people – some even going so far as suggesting some form of a self-quarantine. As fears grow of contracting the pathogen, people with the means to do so stockpile on resources while markets run out of products to reshelve due to the lack of workforce in charge of production and distribution.
The Washington Post reports a shortage of rice, pasta, and frozen vegetables as well as toiletries, canned tuna, premade soups in stores all over the USA. Abha Bhattarai and Laura Reiley writing for The Washington Post also attribute the shortage to millions of Americans choosing to stay indoors and making their own food rather than frequenting a fast-food chain.
Amazon also revealed they are fresh out of toilet papers as nationwide stores are running out are also alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays.
What Is Being Done?
As the world braces for the COVID-19 outbreak to exacerbate, market leaders and researchers continue to find ways to mitigate the hit on the supply-demand chain. Already calls are being made upon citizens to not hog all the supplies just because they can. Consumers are also being advised to ration their supplies and not be wasteful.
Delivery services such as Instacart are also employing the “contact-free” drop-off service to customers.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergency program, also stated that medical personnel at the forefront of the pandemic would be given the first priority when it comes to the N-95 respirators. In his statement, he said:
“We need to start looking at what is the minimum amount of supply that needs to be protected and directed to those institutions and systems that require it for the next number of months. If we start to see the normal civilian market being flooded with N-95 and other respirator-type masks and we see doctors and nurses in hospitals not having those, then there is a problem.”
In terms of preparedness, the USA is also ahead of the curve and has a secret $7 billion cache of emergency medical supplies. An initiative started in case an incident like the 9/11 terrorist attack was to happen, the supplies cache is now being called upon to supply emergency supplies.