The Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce a half-billion dollar investment in the domestic production of nitrile gloves in the coming weeks, a top Trump administration official said during a tour of a national stockpile warehouse Friday.
The contracts are in the process of being completed and will include investing in the domestic manufacturing of the raw material for nitrile gloves, which don’t have a U.S.-based producer, said Paul Mango, the HHS deputy chief of staff for policy.
Doctors and nurses use the gloves for a wide array of routine medical procedures. For safety, they change gloves with each new patient. Some are now wearing two pairs during the pandemic as an extra precaution. They switch the outer pair with each patient.
The global demand for gloves is projected to be about 585 billion pairs in 2020, while the supply is about 370 billion, a shortfall of 37%, according to a report by Australian glove manufacturer Ansell.
In May, the HHS set a goal of buying 90 days’ worth of protective equipment for the stockpile by the end of 2020, based on the highest usage rate. The Strategic National Stockpile’s goal was to get 4.5 billion gloves, and it has 72 million as of Friday.
Mango said he feels good about the amount of equipment in the stockpile, except for gloves.
The government’s role in investing in domestic manufacturing is to create a lower entry cost and less risk for companies, Mango said, and it is ensuring that the products will be financially competitive on a global basis.
Brig. Gen. David Sanford, director of the supply chain task force, acknowledged there are constraints in the glove manufacturing market Dec. 10 and said the government was in the process of finalizing a “fairly substantial investment” in their production.
The world’s biggest glove producer, Top Glove Corp., was forced to shutter 14 of its 28 factories after an outbreak of Covid-19 in November and was given permission to resume operations Dec. 14. About 65% of the world’s gloves are made in Malaysia.
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