While the coronavirus has been forcing the nation into lockdown for over nine months, parts of the supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) are still unreliable. Many healthcare workers, patients, and first responders still don’t have reliable access to masks, gloves, and other medical necessities. Per recent reports, medical personnel are being forced to reuse PPE that are intended to be thrown away after one use. Reliable PPE from vetted suppliers continues to be available for purchase through Fandes marketplace.
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According to the New York Times, the Strategic National Stockpile of PPE only has approximately ⅓ of the N95 masks that were expected to be available at this time. The Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) of the American Hospital Association has expressed a continuing concern that hospitals will run out of nitrile gloves, medical gowns, masks, and other mandatory supplies for testing and disease prevention. The AHRMM has briefed GovShop on the current state of the pandemic and has been working closely with GovShop since the onset of the pandemic to bring vetted suppliers across PPE categories to government agencies and healthcare organizations.
“While PPE shortages continue as a result of the COVID resurgence, availability of nitrile gloves have become a key concern. There are a number of factors contributing to this shortage including rolling closures of nitrile glove factories in Malaysia and global vaccination programs now underway. The CDC has issued an excellent resource for optimizing the supply of PPE for the health care provider, Summary for Healthcare Facilities: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of PPE during Shortages,” said Agnes Lipowicz of AHRMM.”
AHA and AHRMM continue to strongly recommend following these and other conservation strategies including centralizing PPE inventory and developing strategies to match their use to the care environment,” she continued.
Many medical facilities and first responder units are particularly concerned about reliable access to nitrile gloves in the coming weeks. According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Health and Radiation Safety unit, nitrile is a synthetic rubber that serves as a very good material for general-purpose gloves because of its elasticity and chemical resistance.
These properties also make disposable nitrile gloves the most common gloves for handling laboratory chemicals and surgical procedures. However, the nitrile rubber used in these gloves doesn’t provide total chemical protection. They should only be used as a brief physical barrier for contact with chemicals or blood-borne pathogens and need to be removed and thrown away immediately after use, according to the University of Pennsylvania.
Related: Responding to COVID-19: Verified Personal Protective Equipment Suppliers (PPE)
Despite the importance of single-use nitrile gloves for preventing disease spread and keeping both medical and laboratory procedures sanitary, the raw materials needed to produce these gloves are experiencing a shortage. The need for PPE has remained high since the start of the pandemic-related lockdown in March.
According to CBS News, N95 respirators, medical gowns, and nitrile gloves have seen dramatic price increases due to increasing demand and stagnation in supply levels of the raw materials needed to produce them. These price increases have been detrimental to many community-based health clinics, where clinicians have started to reuse disposable nitrile gloves. GovShop is home to over 8,000 vetted PPE suppliers and 10,000 vetted PPE products, which can be accessed here.
The nitrile glove shortage is intended to have more serious consequences as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely distributed. With the COVID-19 vaccine now being administered across the country, the demand for nitrile gloves for those distributing the vaccine has increased. The federal government will be providing healthcare workers with needles, syringes, alcohol prep pads, masks, and face shields, but no nitrile gloves, says CBS.
GovShop is dedicated to assisting in the fight against COVID-19 by providing market reports and connections to reliable suppliers of PPE. See GovShop’s list of over 700 thoroughly background-checked suppliers of medical gloves here.