Four supply chain updates for ASC leaders to know:
On COVID-19 testing: The week of Dec. 7, American Airlines started offering at-home COVID-19 tests to domestic passengers going to states with travel restrictions, and the FDA authorized the first at-home COVID-19 test not requiring a prescription. Walmart and Sam's Club began selling at-home COVID-19 tests online. However, experts told The New York Times that a shortage of lab workers to process diagnostic tests, as well as the cost of tests, are big obstacles to the U.S. increasing its testing capacity.
On vaccine progress: Preparing for distribution before an FDA authorization, United Airlines carried the first mass air shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines in late November from Brussels to Chicago. If Pfizer's vaccine is approved, the U.S. government will distribute an estimated 40 million doses in December, down from an initial estimate of 300 million doses. Officials blamed the lower estimate on raw material bottlenecks and manufacturing issues.
Notably, one-third of states said they are "greatly" or "completely" worried they won't have enough supplies to administer COVID-19 vaccines when they are approved, according to a report released Nov. 30 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
On supply procurement: Some surgery centers have been stockpiling supplies to sidestep shortages, while others have sourced materials from new and unique vendors such as auto manufacturers or hospitals with excess PPE, administrators told Becker's ASC Review. To maintain adequate inventory levels, the team at Novi (Mich.) Surgery Center is extending the use of N95s and non-sterile gloves.
On supply scams: Federal authorities seized more than 100,000 fake N95 masks worth more than $600,000 from a warehouse in Texas, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The masks were on their way to a hospital on the East Coast when U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted the shipment at Ysleta Cargo Facility in El Paso Dec. 7.