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Monday, July 15th, 2024

Senate hearing examines damage caused by lack of, overreliance on foreign supply chains throughout COVID-19 pandemic

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In the wake of a pandemic response that had been hobbled initially by a lack of domestic medical supplies and an overreliance on foreign supply chains, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) held an oversight hearing with supply chain, pharmaceutical, and medical experts this week.

Front and center was the Trump administration, with participants pressed on how the previous administration failed to anticipate drug and medical supply shortages and to take actions needed to shore them up at the start of the pandemic. Further, Peters pressed on the issue of foreign overreliance, noting that the resulting supply chain shortages as the world locked down and hoarded supplies led to a shortage of critical personal protective equipment.

“Despite years of warnings about the dangers of our nation’s overreliance on foreign sources and manufacturers for critical medical supplies, our nation was still completely unprepared to acquire the masks, gloves, gowns, and ventilators needed to treat the significant number of COVID patients, stop the spread, and save lives,” Peters said. “Instead of a coordinated federal effort to secure and direct supplies where they were needed most, the Trump Administration’s inaction forced states, and even individual hospitals, to bid against each other for limited protective gear. This forced our frontline health care workers to resort to wearing trash bags, snorkel masks, and other ineffective alternatives when they couldn’t get appropriate medical supplies.”

All of this led to a national security risk, in Peters’ estimation, and one that cost many lives. As a result, one of his main goals for the hearing was to advocate for strengthening the supply chain’s security and empowering domestic manufacturing. The hearing was the second in a series of oversight hearings planned to examine preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the pandemic has led to more than 587,000 deaths and more than 33 million cases in the United States alone.