HHS 'woefully' behind in stocking gloves for strategic national stockpile, GAO says

HHS is "woefully" behind in stocking gloves for the strategic national stockpile, and the stockpile is dangerously low on gloves needed to protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19, Mary Denigan-Macauley, the Government Accountability Office’s director of healthcare, told NBC News.

HHS set a goal to have a 90-day supply of nitrile gloves in the national stockpile, about 4.5 billion gloves in times of normal demand. But as of last week, the stockpile had 2 million gloves, department officials told NBC News

HHS estimates the current demand for gloves in the U.S. to be at 8.7 billion per month, almost twice the average demand, NBC News reported. Global demand for gloves has reached 585 billion this year, but manufacturers are only capable of producing 370 billion at current levels, according to the Health Industry Distributors Association.

Increasing domestic manufacturing of gloves is more challenging than other personal protective equipment because the raw material used to make the gloves is almost exclusively from Asia, according to NBC News. About 99 percent of gloves are made in Malaysia and China. 

Supply chain experts told NBC News that while the federal government was proactive in boosting domestic production of ventilators and N95 masks, much less progress has been made on gloves. 

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