Source:Peter Klein, Christine Brandt, Juliet Linderman, Martha Mendoza, Kate McCormick, Frank Koughan, Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, Ron Nixon, Sally Buzbee, Andrew Metz, Raney Aronson-Rath
Affiliation:FRONTLINE, Associated Press, Global Reporting Centre
Date:October 6, 2020
Why was the United States left scrambling for critical medical equipment as the coronavirus swept the country? With the Associated Press and Global Reporting Centre, FRONTLINE investigated the fragmented global medical supply chain and its deadly consequences, and found a confluence of events led to a scenario in which hospitals and the public were left without critically needed equipment. Offshoring production of personal protective equipment over the past two decades posed a serious security threat to the U.S., one that had been repeatedly highlighted – but those warnings were largely ignored by the past three administrations. The Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s backstop in times of crisis, had been depleted of both PPE and equipment like ventilators. A mixture of political inaction and poorly executed contracts left the stockpile unprepared when the pandemic hit. The Trump administration had tools at its disposal to address the crisis, including the powerful Defense Production Act, but it largely failed to act quickly or aggressively to shore up medical supply production. The inaction cost lives.