One of the things that the Coronavirus Pandemic has shown us is the grave danger we all face because so much of our medical supplies come from China. Not only do masks and gloves come from the Middle Kingdom, but key ingredients to a large number of medicines come from there as well.
President Trump’s initiative to move as much of this manufacturing back to the United States is a good one, in that this has become a national security issue.
As this transition happens, I expect that we’re going to see a continuation of shortages. China has already shown that if they are going to go down, they’re going to go down fighting.
They’ve been withholding medical shipments, not only from us but from other countries, while at the same time, there have been many shipments of medical supplies that have been sent out, which have proven to be inferior and even unusable.
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China isn’t the only overseas supplier of American medicines and medical supplies. A surprising amount of our pharmaceuticals and medical supplies come from other countries.
What will happen if shipping comes to a stop? What if our European allies, who produce those products are unable to ship because they are hit by an EMP?
The shortages we are facing due to the COVID-19 are nothing alongside the shortages we will face if there is ever a major disaster with a true disruption of our supply lines. In that case, the supply shortages we will face will be much more severe than what we are facing now.
When that disaster comes, the only medical supplies that you will have available to you, are those things that you have set aside in your stockpile before the disaster strikes.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re well-stocked. The question is, what to stock?
Personal Protection Equipment
One of the things that have marked the COVID-19 pandemic is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Medical masks and gloves have been in short supply; enough so that the Surgeon General asked the public to leave them for medical personnel to use. Part of this has been due to Chinese hoarding; but even without that, there would have been shortages.
When I’m talking about PPE here, I’m not just talking about masks and gloves, but also Tyvek suits (disposable HAZMAT suits), goggles and plastic face shields. Should we ever be faced with a more serious pandemic, such as Ebola, we’ll need much more than the cloth masks we’re using now.
There’s a reason why doctor’s offices and hospitals are so stringent on cleaning; it’s because they’re trying to prevent the spread of disease. Germs on surfaces are easily spread to others. That’s why businesses are putting so much effort into cleaning and over half the population is disinfecting their groceries, before bringing them into their homes.
Guess where most of those disinfectants come from? You’re right, they come from China. That’s why you can’t find Clorox wipes in the stores. Not only are people buying them every chance they get, but China isn’t shipping as many as we need. And that doesn’t just apply to those wipes either; it applies to just about any disinfectant you can think of.
If there is any medicine you should have on-hand at all times, it’s an assortment of different antibiotics. But our medical doctors don’t want you to have it, because people have been known to make mistakes and take antibiotics when they don’t need to. That’s dangerous too. Because of this, it’s hard to buy antibiotics without a prescription.
One way to build a stockpile of antibiotics is to buy veterinary grade antibiotics. While they are packaged differently and carry different names, many of these are manufactured in the same factories that produce those sold for human use. They’re the same medicine. If you find out which ones are which, you can use them. Just be sure that you know the right dosages to use and which antibiotics work for which infections.
Another source is to buy them in Mexico. Antibiotics are sold over-the-counter in Mexican pharmacies.
You can buy them in small boxes that have enough blister-packed pills for one treatment regimen or you can buy bottles of 100. I’ve used Mexican pharmaceuticals for years and had very good results. Many thousands of retired “Winter Texans” buy all their pharmaceuticals in Mexico every year, saving themselves hundreds of dollars. Once again, make sure you look up what they are and how to use them properly.
Other than antibiotics, pain relievers are probably the most important medicines to have in your collection. Pain management is an important part of the healing process. Besides that, we all encounter many small aches and pains that we need help dealing with.
But pain relievers are one of the fastest medicines to fly off the shelves in any emergency; not just the COVID-19 buying panic.
I’ve seen empty store shelves due to hurricanes and serious winter snowstorms. People understand their need for these vital medicines, so they buy them when they can. But that might not leave any for you, if you don’t already have them on hand.
Specialty Trauma Treatment Supplies
Bandages can be made out of any cloth. People have done that for centuries. But that doesn’t mean that we want to, if we can avoid it. Stockpiling bandages is cheap, compared to some of the other things I’m mentioning here. Just make sure that you stockpile quality ones; cloth bandage strips, instead of plastic ones. When push comes to shove, they last longer and work better.
But what’s more important than bandages are the things you can’t come up with easy substitutes for.
Things like butterfly bandages and Steri-strips, tourniquets, Celox, cohesive medical tape, and elastic bandages. If you can’t do it yourself and you need it for first-aid, make sure you’ve got it.
Cleaning your home isn’t the only thing that’s important, you need to be able to clean injuries and wounds as well. Yet in the recent crisis, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide became hard to get; not because of injuries, but because they can be used as disinfectants too.
But disinfecting a wound is considerably more important than disinfecting your kitchen table. So make sure that you have plenty of antiseptics set aside just for first-aid, over and above anything you might need to have, in order to keep your home germ free.
Antihistamines & Decongestants
Believe it or not, many of these are made in Europe, rather than here in the United States. What happens to our supply, if something happens to Italy, for example. I haven’t checked, but several antihistamines are made there.
Granted, antihistamines and decongestants don’t cure anything, but rather deal with the symptoms. But that’s important too.
When we’re talking about patients who have respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19 or the flu, dealing with symptoms is important, so that the patient can breathe. And as anyone knows, you can go through a lot of these, just dealing with a common cold.
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If you have any family members who have chronic conditions, you should have as many months of those drugs on hand as you can. This may be difficult unless you have a very understanding doctor who is willing to write you the prescriptions. But if you know your doctor well and medication dosages are stable, many will cooperate with you on this.
Once again, you can buy most of these in Mexico, if you happen to make a trip to the border to buy antibiotics.
The cost will be considerably lower, but the quality will be just fine. The pharmacies there can translate the names of American drugs into those that come from their own pharmaceutical industry. Just make sure to note it down, so that you’ll know what they are when you get home.
If any of those medications require syringes and needles, you’d better make sure you’ve got a good stock of them as well. Most of the world’s supply of syringes comes from… you guessed it, China. While that will probably change in the future, I wouldn’t count on waiting for it to happen.
While you might not think of vitamins as medical supplies, they actually are. We take vitamins (those of us who do) for the purpose of maintaining our health, trying to make up for lacks in our diets. Even if you don’t take vitamins now, you should consider them for a time of crisis. With a reduced diet, it would be a good idea to take vitamins, to make up for the nutrients you aren’t getting.
But, as we just talked about with the prescription drugs and so many other things, many brands of vitamins are made in China. So who knows what the supply situation will be like in the future, especially during a time of crisis.
Most people don’t think of ultraviolet (UV) lights when they think of medical supplies, but they are perhaps one of the most important. UV light has been proven to kill bacteria, viruses, mold, mildew and even fungi. To work, the UV light must be in the range of 200 to 400 nanometers.
Black lights, of the kind that are used for making posters glow in the dark, is at 320 to 350 nanometers, so they can be used to provide this UV light.
If you’re concerned about any sort of disease, it’s valuable to have UV lights for disinfecting with. You’ll want the strongest lights you can get, as the testing on killing those pathogens is mostly done with sunlight. The higher the intensity of the light, the better it will work as a disinfectant. Just be careful, as too much UV light can cause sunburn or lead to skin cancer.
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