Prices for surgical masks rise by 60 pc since DecemberTo meet rising global demand, WHO estimates that industry must increase manufacturing by 40 per cent as prices for surgical masks surge upwards.
Each month, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the coronavirus (COVID-19) response according to latest World Health Organization (WHO) projections.
For examination gloves, that figure goes up to 76 million, while international demand for goggles stands at 1.6 million per month. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, prices have surged. Surgical masks have seen a sixfold increase, N95 respirators have trebled and gowns have doubled.
During mid-week, the WHO warned that severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
The Geneva-based global health watchdog wants manufacturers and governments to increase production by 40 pc to meet rising global demand. WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real. Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first.”
Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others. But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.
Supplies can take months to deliver and market manipulation is widespread, with stocks frequently sold to the highest bidder. WHO has so far shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting.