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The Status of Medical Equipment Supply Around the World

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

Status of Cases - Worldwide

COVID-19 has spread worldwide, affecting 210 countries and territories. Since the first official reported case in Wuhan on 31 December 2019 until 28 April 2020, the total number of cases worldwide has already reached over 3,000,000 (see fig. 1) with over 211,000 reported deaths (see fig. 2). Number of cases is expected to rise as many nations have started doing mass testing in an attempt to slow down the outbreak, while daily reported deaths worldwide seems to start to go down since its peak on 17 April with a daily death toll of 8,341 (see fig. 4). The downward trend could be a result of the lower death tolls in countries that were once the epicenter of the pandemic, like Italy and China. Now, all eyes are on the US as their figures continue to rise.

Figure 1

Source: Worldometer -

Figure 2

Source: Worldometer -

Figure 3

Source: Worldometer -

Figure 4

Source: Worldometer -

Shortage of medical equipment around the world

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) pleaded to the manufacturing industry and governments to ramp up production of personal protective equipment (PPE) by at least 40% to meet the surge in global demand. The shortage in PPE also poses a threat to healthcare workers across the world from the new coronavirus as well as other infectious diseases.

With the rising demand of PPE, suppliers have also increased prices of essential PPE by at least 6x the original price. Another challenge that most countries are facing is the time spent for the supplies to arrive as some take months while the virus rapidly spreads. In this battle, we are not only fighting against COVID-19, but also racing against time.

WHO has forecasted the number of medical masks needed for the COVID-19 response each, and the estimated figure is around 89 million. An estimated 76 million for medical gloves and 1.6 million for goggles/eye protection.

A WHO guidance was released calling for the “rational use of personal protective equipment for COVID-19” that involves selecting the proper PPE and how to correctly put on, remove, and dispose of it. It also shared three recommendations on how to optimize the availability of PPE:

  1. Minimize the need for PPE with the following interventions:

  2. Use of telemedicine to lessen the exposure of healthcare workers to people with or under investigation for COVID-19

  3. Use of glass or plastic windows as physical barriers in areas such as triage areas, registration desks at ERs, or pharmacy windows

  4. Restriction of healthcare workers to enter rooms of COVID-19 patients if they are not involved in direct care

  5. Ensure PPE use is rationalized and appropriate. Use of PPE should be based on the risk of exposure and the transmission of the pathogen.

  6. Coordinate PPE supply chain management mechanisms. This includes monitoring and controlling PPE requests from countries and large responders and it also promoted the use of a centralized request management approach to avoid duplication of stock.

Response of manufacturers & suppliers to the shortage in PPE supply

The exponential increase in cases of infected people with COVID-19 has exhausted most healthcare systems in the world, even in countries that are known to have the most well-developed healthcare systems. One of the greatest impediments in successfully battling the highly contagious virus is the shortage in supply of PPE and other important medical equipment such as ventilators and test kits.

As most of the global economy is on a standstill due to strict lockdowns imposed by many countries, businesses are shifting their focus to help in the production of much needed PPE for healthcare workers. PPE manufacturers have heeded the plea of WHO to ramp up production as response to the pandemic, based on the article released by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). PPE manufacturers that specialize in producing PPE for industrial and construction sectors are called to partner with medical device producers to help produce products needed for COVID-19 response.

In ADB’s latest publication on global shortage of PPE amid COVID-19, trade network maps of PPE production show that China, Germany, and the US are the main producers accounting for most of the global market share. China plays a central role in producing and exporting PPE products to large parts of the world. They are the world’s largest exporter in commodity groups that consist of gowns, masks, protective suits/coveralls, and goggles.

Due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19 in China, exports of medical supplies declined in the first two months of 2020. But now, China is back and is increasing its production 12x its supply pre-COVID-19. The country is now producing 116 million masks a day and has offered to export essential medical equipment to countries that are badly affected by the pandemic like Italy and other countries.

Despite the increase in production of PPE to address the shortage in supply, most nations still find it difficult to purchase personal protective equipment to provide for healthcare workers and essential workers because counterfeit goods and fraud are everywhere. This is why Bay to Bay is dedicated to provide quality medical supplies and equipment in this time of need.


Bay to Bay is keen to support in the fight against COVID-19 by providing quality, CE/FDA approved medical supplies and equipment.

For inquiries, contact us through


World Health Organization. (2020). Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease (‎‎COVID-19)‎‎ and considerations during severe shortages: interim guidance, 6 April 2020 (No. WHO/2019-nCov/IPC_PPE_use/2020.3). World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. (2020). Shortage of personal protective equipment endangering health workers worldwide.

International Safety Equipment Association. (n.d.). PPE Manufacturers & Suppliers Respond to COVID-19. Retrieved from

Coronavirus Worldwide Graphs. (2020, April 27). Worldometers. Retrieved April 27, 2020, from

Park, C. Y., Kim, K., & Roth, S. (2020). Global Shortage of Personal Protective Equipment amid COVID-19: Supply Chains, Bottlenecks, and Policy Implications.

Brown, C. (2020, March 26). COVID-19: China’s exports of medical supplies provide a ray of hope. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Retrieved April 27, 2020, from