After two Ebola deaths on U.S. soil, hospitals moved fast to implement new safety procedures and buy the full-body protective suits designed to protect doctors and nurses from exposure to the deadly virus. But those well-intentioned precautionary measures are having an unintended consequence: exacerbating gear shortages in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the African countries hardest hit by the outbreak.
Medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, bought enough suits in July to last it a full year. But those supplies are disappearing faster than planned because the organization has started selling the suits to other agencies working on the ground, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered $2.7 million worth of PPEs, or Personal Protective Equipment, for its Strategic National Stockpile earlier this month. CDC guidelines now require hospitals and first-responders to stock PPEs, in the event that they cross paths with an Ebola patient.
Some manufacturers, like DuPont, say they are keeping prices flat and prioritizing buyers based on their direct contact with Ebola patients. But distributors and intermediaries may not be so principled.