The Covid-19 pandemic has caught most countries’ healthcare systems off-guard and skyrocketed demand for products such as ventilators and medicines. It has reached such a point that countries are outbidding one another to secure their own supplies — a competition that is highly detrimental to nations with less economic firepower.
Brazil’s pharmaceutical industry has encountered problems procuring at least 31 tons of inputs used to produce 23 medicines — including some that are being tested against Covid-19, such as chloroquine, which hospitals are administering to patients in severe conditions. These supplies have been halted by the Indian government, a move that has grown common as countries worry that allowing massive international sales might leave them exposed to shortages.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is also running low in many hospitals, as we informed in our April 2 Daily Briefing (for premium subscribers only). Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta has said Brazil’s attempts to procure PPE and respirators from China have come up empty, after the U.S. made massive purchases from the same suppliers. “They say there’s no stock left,” Mr. Mandetta told reporters.