The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is looking to stockpile a year’s worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to prepare for an expected disruption to the supply chain due to an “emergency” event.
A solicitation posted on FedBizOpps entitled Emergency Disaster Event Preparation For Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) details how the federal government is looking to secure face masks, medical gloves, shoe covers, lab coats and coveralls to last one full year with an option for four extra years.
The NIH is a sub-agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is responsible for research into biomedical and public health issues.
The purpose of obtaining the equipment – for use in animal laboratory testing – isn’t the issue. The interesting aspect of the solicitation is why the NIH feels the need to purchase the items in bulk – namely in order to, “ensure the accessibility and availability of essential supplies throughout an emergency/disaster, government shutdown, or any other interruption of regular deliveries.”
“During emergency/disaster events, the normal supply and distribution channels will most likely be unavailable/or protracted due to the impact of the emergency and the rush of immediate orders,” states the solicitation.
It appears as though the NIH is anticipating a potential public health crisis, be it Ebola or any other virus, that could quickly cause supplies of personal protective equipment to become exhausted.
“This contract clearly indicates that the Government expects a protracted shortage of medical PPE, and that the window of opportunity for individuals to purchase needed PPE at reasonable prices is now at a close,” speculates the POTR blog.
Last month we reported on how the U.S. State Department bought 160,000 Ebola hazmat suits, a purchase which prompted stocks in the company supplying the suits, Lakeland Industries, to soar by 40 per cent.