Physicians Urge Government Action to Boost Domestic Manufacturing

By Cathalijne Adams

Manufacturers can’t do this alone. And they shouldn’t have to.

It’s been over half a year since the first COVID-19 diagnosis in America, and pandemic fatigue is heavily upon us – at least it is in my household. And yet, with surging infection rates, there’s little reason to think that we’ll be shaking off the shackles of quarantine any time soon.

Rather, now is the time for America to double down on efforts to tackle the virus. Now is the time we sort out how exactly we’re going to procure the medical supplies our nation needs, in the near term and in the future. Now is the time to support U.S. manufacturers.

But don’t just take it from us. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), comprised of all 155 accredited medical schools in the United States and 17 Canadian medical schools, is in agreement: the federal government must act immediately to bolster our domestic manufacturing capacity for medical supplies, if we are to remedy current shortages and ensure adequate supplies for the coming months.

Indeed, so critical is domestic manufacturing to the success of America’s response to the pandemic that this recommendation is actually the AAMC’s first proposed action in their new report, “The Way Forward on Covid-19: A Road Map to Reset the Nation’s Approach to the Pandemic.”

To accomplish this strengthening of the domestic supply chain, the AAMC urges implementation of the Defense Production Act, or other legislation like it, that directs manufacturers to prioritize production of medical supplies, such as testing swabs, plastic trays, sample vials, and medications.

Importantly, the report also urges the federal government to justify manufacturers’ investment in medical equipment by issuing sizeable contracts so that domestic manufacturing capacity for these goods is guaranteed not just for the first couple months of a pandemic, but in case of future need.

The good news is that lawmakers have been clamoring to offer the kind of support the AAMC is calling for, with new legislation geared at supporting America’s domestic manufacturing capacity emerging seemingly every week.  

As the United States continues to navigate the greatest public health and economic crises that our nation has faced in decades, it’s clear that it’s going to take a concerted effort. Placing the onus of establishing a stable long-term domestic supply chain for our nation’s most critical emergency goods squarely upon the shoulders of American manufacturers would neglect the huge significance of their contributions and the inter-connectedness of our efforts.

“We are up to this challenge, and so is our nation if we — our elected officials, doctors and scientists, public health experts, the private and public sectors, communities, families, and each of us as individuals — work together at the national, state, and local levels,” the AAMC states in its report.