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Survey of Supply Chain Pros Reveals Biggest Pandemic Concerns

Oct. 23, 2020
Eighty-two percent of respondents are concerned about China tariffs’ effects on PPE availability.

According to a new survey by Supplyframe, 32% of surveyed supply chain professionals who work at North American medical supply companies anticipate it will take six to 12 months for global supply chains to return to full capacity for vaccine distribution.

The survey, based on the responses of 200 supply chain professionals and collected by Conceptial Inc. between August and September 2020, gathered responses on what the biggest hurdles for global supply chains was to be as the COVID-19 pandemic moves into winter and 2021.

One-fifth of respondents, or 20%, estimated it would take between 12 months to 2 years for the global supply chain to recover. Respondents were overall more optimistic about the speed of distributing the vaccine in the United States: A full 66% of respondents said the necessary medical equipment to produce and distribute the vaccine at scale within one year of U.S. approval.

“The supply chain has experienced delays in manufacturing, shortages in supply, and logistics problems due to travel restrictions,” said Supplyframe CEO Steve Flagg. “But most supply chain professionals believe the U.S. will have the equipment it needs to create and deliver a COVID-19 vaccine within a year of its approval.”

Almost a fifth of respondents, 19%, were concerned about the speed of vaccine production, and 16% said distribution was likely to be too onerous. Fourteen percent of respondents were concerned with the number of Americans who might refuse vaccination.

A majority of respondents were concerned with how U.S.-China relations might impact supply chains: specifically, 82% worried that tariffs with China could impact the availability of personal protective equipment and medical devices, and 26% said medical gear will be more difficult to source. A fifth of respondents anticipate continued product shortages, and 30% said U.S. manufacturing capacity needs to be higher.

More than a quarter of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the CARES Act passed March 27: 28% said it had not provided enough financial support for medical device production. 22% said it had not improved information gaps in supply chains.

Some participants saw at least some silver lining to the situation related to preparedness for future disasters. Sixteen percent of respondents said redesigning supply chains would improve supply chain resiliency; another 16% said the same for creating continuity plans for transportation, communications, supply, and cash flow; 14% suggested improving supplier qualifications; 13% suggested increasing visibility of supplier inventory, capacity, and lead times; and 12% mentioned diversifying supply chains by adding second sources.

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