Silent Threat of the Coronavirus: America’s Dependence on Chinese Pharmaceuticals

ecowatch.com
The Conversation
Residents wear protective masks in the supermarket on Feb. 12, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Stringer / Getty Images

By Christine Crudo Blackburn, Andrew Natsios Gerald W Parker and Leslie Ruyle

As the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, spreads rapidly around the globe, the international community is scrambling to keep up. Scientists rush to develop a vaccine, policymakers debate the most effective containment methods, and health care systems strain to accommodate the growing number of sick and dying. Though it may sound like a scene from the 2011 movie “Contagion,” it is actually an unfolding reality.

In the midst of all of this, a potential crisis simmers in the shadows: The global dependence on China for the production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Chinese Dominance in the Pharmaceutical Market

We represent an interdisciplinary group of scientists and policymakers at the Scowcroft Institute’s Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program based at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University who have been holding annual summits addressing pandemic-related issues for the past five years. One of our goals is to promote dialogue on potential risks related to pandemics and U.S. security, in this case the disruption of supply chains and availability of medical supplies and drugs.

Today, about 80% of pharmaceuticals sold in the U.S. are produced in China. This number, while concerning, hides an even greater problem: China is the largest and sometimes only global supplier for the active ingredient of some vital medications. The active ingredients for medicines that treat breast cancer and lung cancer and the antibiotic Vancomycin, which is a last resort antibiotic for some types of antimicrobial resistant infections, are made almost exclusively in China. Additionally, China controls such a large market portion of heparin, a blood thinner used in open-heart surgery, kidney dialysis and blood transfusions that the U.S. government was left with no choice but to continue buying from China even after a contamination scandal in 2007.

China is not only the dominant global supplier of pharmaceuticals, but it is also the largest supplier of medical devices in the U.S. These include things like MRI equipment, surgical gowns, and equipment that measures oxygen levels in the blood. Supplies of these essential products have not yet been severely disrupted by the coronavirus, but if China is no longer will or able to supply them to the U.S., thousands of Americans could die.

More concerning still are the limited options available to the U.S. and the rest of the globe to make up the shortfall. It could take years to develop the necessary infrastructure to reestablish U.S. manufacturing capacities and obtain Food and Drug Administration licensure to overcome the loss of the Chinese supply.

When a disease reaches epidemic levels, the first obligation for leaders in any country is to protect their own people. As this current crisis progresses, there may come a point when political leaders in China will face decisions on whether to prohibit the export of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other vital medical components in order to treat or protect their own people. Such acts would be the logical outcome of an escalating situation. For the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response, for example, the U.S. was pushed to the back of the queue for vaccine deliveries even though we had existing contracts with a major vaccine manufacturer located in another country. Those vaccine deliveries were delayed.
Disruption of Global Pharmaceuticals?

While a total loss of active ingredient imports from China might seem far-fetched, we believe the increasing scale of the outbreak moves it closer to the realm of possibility.

About six weeks into international recognition of the epidemic in China, there are already shortages of vital personal protective equipment in both China and the U.S. UPS has transported more than 2 million masks and 11,000 gowns to Wuhan to help alleviate the shortage. But what happens when everyone runs out of protective equipment?

Wuhan is a significant player in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, with multiple pharmaceutical companies located in the city. How many of these factories have closed as a result of the pandemic, and when will those that have closed open back up? Global supply chains could reach a crisis point if they are compromised because Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, is in quarantine and factories are shut down.

Additionally, Wuhan is the location of China’s first Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 laboratory, which was opened in 2017 to research SARS and other emerging diseases. It is the only lab in China that can safely handle the world’s most dangerous pathogens that pose a significant risk of transmission. Infection, death and quarantine in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province is restricting the ability of all types of commerce in the region. Meanwhile, the virus is already creating a significant supply chain imbalance within China. That means those medical supply companies will be under pressure to keep any products produced within the country for protection of their own health care workers, laboratory personnel and the general public.

The regulatory apparatus to insure that the Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals being exported meet the highest standards of safety and quality control are weak or nonexistent, according to a congressional report last year. The pressure placed on supply chains by the outbreak could further exacerbate existing quality control challenges. In doing so, the virus has highlighted our reliance on China as a U.S. national security issue due to outsourcing our manufacturing capabilities and inability to ensure quality control.

As with all pandemics, the complexity of this outbreak demands international collaboration and transparency. At the same time, U.S. public health officials must acknowledge the country’s vulnerability due to our dependence on Chinese production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The U.S. must develop a response plan for the inevitable shortages in the near-term and take necessary actions to reclaim control of our medical supply chain. Continuing to overlook this long-known vulnerability will only lead to catastrophe.

Christine Crudo Blackburn is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.Andrew Natsios is the director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs and Executive Professor, Texas A&M University.

Gerald W Parker is the associate dean for Global One Health, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; and the Director for the Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program, Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.

Leslie Ruyle is the assistant director at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.

Disclosure statement: Andrew Natsios is affiliated with the Bush School of Government, The Hudson Institute, Scowcroft Institute at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M Univ, and Fio Corp.

Christine Crudo Blackburn, Gerald W Parker, and Leslie Ruyle do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

https://www.ecowatch.com/coronavirus-china-us-dependence-2645129486.html

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.

BREAKING: Virginia Passes Bill to Give Electoral Votes to Popular Vote Winner

diamondandsilk.com
BREAKING: Virginia Passes Bill to Give Electoral Votes to Popular Vote Winner
2 minutes

In Virginia, a bill was passed by the House of Delegates that would award its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.

The Democrat-majority House passed the bill with a 51-46 vote.

If the bill is approved by the Senate then Virginia will become part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

The purpose of the bill is to ensure the presidential candidate who wins nationally with the most votes is elected president.

From Breitbart:

“Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” a bill summary states. Further:

The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact.

A state may withdraw from the compact; however, a withdrawal occurring within six months of the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President has qualified to serve the next term.

So far, 15 states, along with Washington D.C., have joined.

The idea gained momentum as an answer to President Donald Trump’s electoral college victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite her approximately three million popular vote lead.

https://www.diamondandsilk.com/blog/2020/02/13/breaking-virginia-passes-bill-to-give-electoral-votes-to-popular-vote-winner/

Live feed of snow goose migration in Lancaster County | fox43.com

HDonTap, in conjunction with the State Game Commission, has a live feed of the snow goose migration. Thousands of birds are gathering there.

Go here to get the live feed of the snow goose migration.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/local/lancaster-county/watch-live-feed-of-snow-goose-migration-in-middle-creek-wildlife-management-area-in-lancaster-county/521-bf9e9dfd-3071-4d4a-a723-5d6c762582d4?__twitter_impression=true

Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus

Footage of what’s going on in China concerning the coronavirus

Stray dogs are beaten to death in china to “stop” spread of coronavirus

dailycolumn.com.au

Footage has emerged of a Chinese community officer savagely beating a defenceless stray dog to death with a large wooden club, claiming to “Prevent the coronavirus from spreading”.

As The death toll from the Coronavirus hits 1,019 Chinese citizens throughout mainland China, the fears of the disease spreading by stray and domesticated Animals is manifested.

Horrified citizens in the city of Nanchong, Sichuan Province were witness to a brutal attack which involved a stray dog being brutally beaten to death with a large wooden club by a community officer. Sources claim the stray dog had bitten a resident and caused havoc.

A shocked resident filmed the entire incident which is too graphic to be shown, which shows the officer beating a medium sized dog repeatedly with a large wooden club, the officers actions have been condemned by animal rights groups as being “cruel” and “atrocious”.

The citizens residing the the complex where the incident took place were later instructed by officers to keep their pets indoors and that no pets were allowed outside.

‘As long as [we] see a dog in the complex, no matter if it is on the lead or not, we will beat it to death,’ the officers were quoted saying.

The footage later shows one of the two dogs which was beaten to death being taken away by a man on a scooter.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) has stated that there has been no evidence to suggest the coronavirus can be spread by cats and dogs at this time.

So far the coronavirus epidemics death toll has reached 1,019 lives with 43,140 people in 28 countries and territories around the world infected with the majority of those cases being in China.

https://dailycolumn.com.au/stray-dogs-are-beaten-to-death-in-china-to-stop-spread-of-coronavirus/

Laws for Animals