Abbott, Roche test kit shipments slip as COVID-19 medical supplies shrink

Coronavirus 383 Health Care 234 U.S. 4481

The U.S. International Trade Commission has received a request from Congress to investigate the supply chains for medical goods in the wake of COVID-19, as flagged in Panjiva’s Sep. 4 research.

The ITC had already been required to identify the key products involved in the testing and treatment of COVID-19 as well as provide a regular update on the performance of imports. Given the national stockpile of ventilators has now been completed, the ITC may have to identify where there are vulnerabilities in other supplies including PPE and pharmaceuticals.

Panjiva’s analysis, based on the U.S. ITC categories and adapted for a July 2020 revision to the HTS-10 tariff hierarchy, shows imports likely crested in June. Imports in July dropped by 13.0% sequentially despite still being 31.0% higher than a year earlier.

The sequential decline was widespread with imports of protective equipment down by 5.7%, diagnostics including testing kits and machinery down by 22.8% and treatment products, including ventilators, down by 13.3%. 

Peak COVID-19 medical supply imports may have passed

Chart shows U.S. imports of 140 products identified as needed for treatment of COVID-19.  Source: Panjiva 

Imports of PPE have declined steadily since May’s peak of $4.86 billion of shipments with a drop to $4.11 billion partly reflecting the end of Project Airbridge by Fema in late June. A second monthly decline in imports of pharmaceuticals of 18.3% in July versus June partly reflects reduced imports of vaccines, likely covering non-COVID-19 related products given the SARS-COV-2 vaccines are yet to complete testing.

A particular concern may be the decline in diagnostics which included a 35.1% sequential dip in test kit imports after a surge in deliveries in June. A significant realignment of tariff codes, used as the basis for Panjiva’s analysis, provides a note of caution.  

Test kits, PPE and pharma experience sharp decline

Chart shows U.S. imports of 140 products identified as needed for treatment of COVID-19.  Source: Panjiva

Panjiva’s U.S. seaborne import data indicates that shipments of test kits have likely declined further in August with shipments down by 11.6% compared to July. 

The decline in shipments in August appears to be down to reduced shipments linked to Abbott Labs and Roche Holding with a drop of 72.7% and 50.0% respectively on a sequential basis. Most other major shippers have also cut back including a 34.5% drop linked to China-based Wondfo Biotech and more modest cuts by BioMérieux and Johnson & Johnson of 9.1% and 3.3% respectively.

Johnson & Johnson holds steady as others cut test kit shipments

Chart segments U.S. seaborne imports of medical test kits by shipper.  Source: Panjiva

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