Testimony on Critical US Supply Chains Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

On July 23, 2020, CGD Senior Fellow Prashant Yadav appeared before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade at a hearing titled “Trade, Manufacturing, and Critical Supply Chains: Lessons From COVID-19.” Yadav’s testimony noted the vulnerabilities in supply chains for medical products clearly exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined key considerations for US policy toward medical supply chains moving forward.

From the testimony:

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of our medical supply chains and shown us how poorly performing supply chains result in additional suffering for patients and expose health professionals and emergency workers to unwarranted risks. We all now recognize that the US medical supply chain is subpar in terms of resilience. Building a resilient medical supply chain which is ready to weather a future shock therefore requires concerted effort and planning. Such efforts must understand the key organizing principles of global medical supply chains and the specialization of tasks and not focus on domestic manufacturing alone. As we prepare for the massive supply chain that will be necessary to manufacture and distribute potential vaccines for COVID-19, we are reminded of the global nature of the vaccine supply chain in which glass vials, adjuvants, and other items come from a supply chain with a global footprint. The US faces a national imperative to assure supply chain security to meet needs at home. But the US also has a national interest in preserving trading partners and growing economies and well-being around the world. We need not frame supply chain security as a zero-sum game. Instead, by focusing on diversification of the supply base of medical product manufacturing, the US would gain supply chain resilience, expanded trade opportunities, and goodwill. That combined with routine stress testing of the medical supply chain for resilience and building a larger national buffer in our stockpile would enable our medical supply chains to be more robust to future shocks.

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