The Dangers Of Ordering Medical Supplies From Overseas

The Dangers Of Ordering Medical Supplies From Overseas

The Covid-19 Pandemic has set off a scramble for medical supplies which is completely unprecedented. In turn, businesses all around the world have turned their attention to satisfying this sudden and imperative need for basic medical supplies. 

Who Is Selling Faulty Medical Equipment?

It’s perhaps no surprise then that in amongst this frenzy, with demand still outstripping supply and the traditional supply chains disrupted by measures designed to combat the virus, people began to exploit this new gap in the market. Including those selling substandard equipment. As a result, thousands of individuals, hospitals, organisations, and governments have fallen foul of unscrupulous (or simply inept) suppliers. 

The demand for face masks and other protective equipment shot through the roof as the virus took hold globally. China, the world’s largest manufacturer of face masks (making over 50% of the global supply pre-2020) upped production from 20 to 116 million units per day but was still forced to import from overseas.

This led to them offering subsidies, lower taxes, interest-free loans, and fast-tracked approvals for businesses to increase manufacturing. The same approach was subsequently taken by governments worldwide, as the pandemic took hold. Thousands of companies internationally, many with no previous experience in providing medical supplies, changed their business overnight to meet the demand. 

Who Has Bought Faulty PPE From Overseas? 

In early March, the Netherlands was forced to recall and return some 600,000 face masks which had already been distributed, as they were found to be faulty and ineffective at protecting wearers from the virus. The most worrying thing was that masks themselves did have a quality certificate, despite the fact that they neither fit nor did the air filters work properly. 

In Spain, 60,000 testing kits were returned when it was found they were unable to detect Covid-19 coronavirus. Turkey also fell foul of dodgy equipment, finding that testing kits ordered from China were not all accurate enough to be of any use. In this case though at least, 350,000 of the tests did work well.

medical professional working in the lab

Closer to home, in April 800,000 counterfeit masks that arrived from China by air were seized by Australian authorities, despite most having passed Australian regulations. Elsewhere, numerous reports of substandard gear arriving from countries all over the world have begun to emerge. 

Where Is The Faulty Equipment Coming From? 

It seems that for a while, the initial epicentre of the virus, China, became the number one supplier of substandard medical equipment. The initial rush to grab a piece of the market, and with governments worldwide desperate to address shortages, meant contracts were handed to companies who were not up to the task. 

The company involved in the Spanish testing kit sale, Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, did not have an official license from Chinese medical authorities to sell its products, according to the Chinese authorities. There have also been a number of companies banned from exporting any more healthcare products. 

However, there have been reports of faulty and counterfeit equipment being sold all across India, the US, much of Europe and in numerous African countries. In fact, there’s hardly a country on earth which isn’t in some way implicated. 

Is It Safe To Order Medical Supplies From China? 

people shaking hands in latex gloves

Of course. Not all deliveries from China have been a nightmare, far from it. China has taken active measures to stem the tide of bad equipment, shutting down rouge suppliers or removing their license to sell medical equipment. Very few countries elsewhere have been so stringent in controlling the flow of substandard and counterfeit PPE. In the vast majority of cases, customers have been supplied with perfectly functioning gear. 

Dr. Dimitris Drakos from Santorini Hospital in Thira, Greece said they had no issues getting CE Certified N95 masks shipped in from Guangzhou from their usual supplier and received a bulk delivery of Synguard Nitrile exam gloves from a new supplier they’ve started using out of HK within days, despite the relatively remote location of the hospital. All of the equipment was functioning and as described. 

How Can I Be Sure I’m Buying Legit Medical Supplies?

With China still supplying a large percentage of the world’s supplies, it’s only natural that you may hear a few more horror stories from here. As far as we can see, so long as you are careful, and make sure you are buying CE Certified equipment from a government-approved source, the supplies are very reliable. 

When buying medical supplies from overseas, during the Covid19 pandemic it’s more important than ever to do some research on the supplier before you order. The good news is, with governments worldwide cracking down on sales of substandard and counterfeit equipment, buying medical supplies from overseas is becoming safer by the day.

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