Lessons Learned and Strategies for Local Manufacturing of PPE for COVID-19 Response based on Literature Review, Experience, and Case Study from Turkey: USHAŞ

Jan 9, 2021

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an important measure in preventing transmission of COVID-19, not only in healthcare settings, diagnostic, and treatment centers but also in daily activities of individuals and general population.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines “Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks and/or respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness.”

This report will be limited to the most commonly used PPE, gloves, surgical/isolation gowns, face shields, surgical/face masks, and respirators, with a primary focus on masks, most commonly used by the general population and healthcare workers. Furthermore, it is important to clarify the distinction between PPE intended for medical and non-medical use. Depending on the intended PPE to be produced, the standards may differ. The standards for PPE will be further elaborated in this report.

Demand for PPE has reached unprecedented levels as COVID-19 has spread globally and governments have sought to prepare and respond. National stockpiling strategies by affected countries have further driven up demand. Supply availability has been hampered by several issues, including export restrictions by some countries producing PPE, and lockdowns that have forced suppliers to (temporarily) shut down. The PPE supply chain has not been properly functioning to meet a surge in demand due to the constraints in production, materials, and logistics. Prices of PPE products have risen dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak: a six-fold increase for surgical masks; threefold for respirators; and a doubling in the price of gowns. Hence, it is vital to understand the bottlenecks and risks to overcome backlogs in the production and distribution of PPE.

The United Nations Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 includes shared responsibility, global solidarity and urgent action for people in need and calls for protecting jobs, businesses, and livelihoods to set in motion a safe recovery of societies and economies as soon as possible for a more sustainable, gender-equal, and carbon-neutral path—better than the “old normal”.

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