Coronavirus Tests U.S. Medical System’s Unhealthy Reliance on China for Drugs and Supplies

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(Hudson Institute) Already, nearly 500 people have died and tens of thousands more have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. It has been found in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States. Tens of millions have been put under travel restrictions and even quarantine by the Chinese government.

While many are rightfully concerned about stopping the virus, few are focused on the fact that the more it spreads, the more the U.S. ability to treat any Americans who are stricken is vulnerable to the tender mercies of the Chinese Communist Party because of a strategic shift in health care that occurred without debate or decision in Washington.

Everything from antibiotics to chemotherapy drugs, from antidepressants to Alzheimer’s medications to treatments for HIV/AIDS, are frequently produced by Chinese manufacturers. What’s more, the most effective breathing masks and the bulk of other personal protective equipment — key to containing the spread of coronavirus and protecting health care workers — and even the basic syringe are largely made in China.

The basic building blocks of U.S. health care are now under Xi’s control.

As Rosemary Gibson, author and health care expert noted, the United States does not produce its own penicillin anymore — the last U.S. based penicillin production facility closed in 2004. Of course, antibiotics may not do any good against the coronavirus, but they may be needed to deal with a related sickness, just as flu often leads to respiratory infections.

This makes the U.S. acutely vulnerable for several reasons. First, China has a record of faulty products and poor oversight that have resulted in recalls, production delays and other problems Americans certainly don’t want to encounter when trying to obtain lifesaving drugs. As Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stated recently, it is time for the U.S. to “consider the ramifications of doing business with a country that has a long history of covering up real risks to its own people and the rest of the world.”

Secondly, when it comes to the ravages of coronavirus, there could be significant consequences to the U.S. irrespective of the disease and contagion. With China facing devastation from the virus and taking emergency measures to contain and deal with the illness, it is becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. Normal day-to-day supply chains are being disrupted if not cut off, posing a risk to the flow of medicine and protective gear the U.S. needs.

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