Biden’s vaccine commitment comes as medical supplies import slide

Coronavirus 479 Health Care 306 U.S. 4947

The Biden administration has committed to making SARS-COV-2 vaccinations available to all American adults by April 19, requiring distribution facilities being within five miles of 90% of the population. While the vaccination program is proceeding apace, there is still a significant need for medical supplies to diagnose and treat COVID-19.

Panjiva’s analysis shows that U.S. imports of medical supplies previously identified by the U.S. ITC as necessary to treat the pandemic fell by 11.4% sequentially in February versus January on a day-adjusted basis. 

That was largely the result of a 23.3% slide in imports of diagnostic tests with the lowest dollar value of imports since May 2020. There was also a 27.9% drop in imports of pharmaceuticals needed to treat the pandemic, likely excluding vaccines which are being produced domestically. 

On a more positive note imports of personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, improved with a 2.4% sequential increase on a daily average basis after declining steadily since last May. There are still significant disruptions to supply chains in PPE though including restrictions on imports of rubber gloves linked to Top Glove as discussed in Panjiva’s research of March 31.

Shipments of pharmaceuticals in decline, PPE stabilized

Chart shows U.S. imports of selected medical supplies. Source: Panjiva

The drop in pharmaceutical imports have been driven in large part by a 34.9% slide in imports of vaccines and immunological products sequentially, though that likely reflects the increased use of domestically produced COVID-19 vaccines. A 28.4% drop in imports of antibiotics and a 5.4% dip in ENT products indicate a more widespread reduction in spending on pharmaceuticals. 

The decline in shipments may add to the impetus for increased onshoring of manufacturing processes ahead of the early June report from the critical supply chain review already inflight by the administration.

Vaccine imports have proven volatile

Chart shows U.S. imports of selected medical pharmaceuticals. Source: Panjiva

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