The claim: The Obama administration has used and has not replenished the nation’s emergency medical supplies, including N95 masks
When the novel coronavirus pandemic strained health systems, questions about the response of the US government were circulating in the media and online.
On March 26, The Daily Wire published an article on the role of the Obama administration in using and allegedly not replenishing the federal stock of N95 masks.
“The Obama administration has used up the supply of N95 respirators at the federal level to cope with the outbreak of H1N1 influenza in 2009, and has never rebuilt the supply despite requests,” begins the play.
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The article is based on reporting from outlets such as Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times. According to Bloomberg News, “after the outbreak of H1N1 influenza in 2009, which triggered a nationwide shortage of masks and caused an order backlog of 2 to 3 years for the N95 variety, inventory did not distribute about three-quarters of its inventory.” t not rebuild the offer. “
“After the swine flu epidemic in 2009, an association of the safety equipment industry and a government-sponsored task force recommended that the supply of N95 respirators that filter particles out of the air should be replenished through the supply,” reported the lot Angeles Times.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said during a press conference that the country’s supply of personal protective equipment, including medical equipment such as N95 masks, was almost exhausted.
A history of the national emergency reserve
The United States was founded in 1999 to prepare the country for threats such as pandemics, natural disasters and bio-terrorism. They have used and maintained their strategic national supply of medical care in times of acute healthcare crises.
The reserve was originally referred to as the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, but was renamed during a restructuring in 2003 when additional materials were added to the offering. The supply is managed jointly by the Defense, Health and Human Services departments.
While officials rarely discuss details of the reserve, such as the exact location and value of its contents, the fund’s replenishment contracts are largely public, including a $ 1.5 billion vaccine contract in July 2019.
Alerts about the United States’ unwillingness to deal with a major pandemic have been coming in at least the early 2000s and only last year, both within the federal government and elsewhere.
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“SARS has infected relatively few people across the country, but raised concerns about the willingness to have large outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said a 2003 Government Accountability Office analysis.
HHS secretary Alex Azar said at the BioDefense summit in April 2019 that a pandemic was one of his main concerns, CNN reported on Friday. “Of course, what people ask: ‘What’s stopping you the most in the world of biological defense at night?’ A pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room is likely to share this concern, “Azar said at the summit. (His full comments are available on the HHS website.)
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The supply has been used at least 13 times since its inception, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist and anthrax attacks. Also during the George W. Bush administration, the national supply was used in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and 2008 used again for hurricanes Gustav and Ike, as can be seen from the history of the supply published by the HHS.
In 2005, the Bush administration released a report calling for investments in local and national inventories, increasing domestic production capacity, and coordinating research efforts on medicines and vaccines. In 2006, Congress approved the addition of protective equipment such as N95 surgical masks to the inventory.
During Barack Obama’s presidency, national inventories were seriously taxed as the government overcame several crises over eight years. “75 percent of the N95 respirators and 25 percent of the face masks included in the CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (100 million products) were used in the health service in the course of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response,” according to a study the year 2017 in the journal Health Security.
According to NIH, inventory resources were also used in hurricanes Alex, Irene, Isaac and Sandy. Stocks also had to be used during the 2010 floods in North Dakota. The Ebola virus and botulism outbreaks in 2014 and the Zika virus outbreak in 2016 continued to weigh heavily on inventory levels without the Obama administration making serious efforts to replenish the fund.
ProPublica reported on April 3 that budgetary struggles in Congress in the early years of the Obama administration contributed to a lack of bearings. However, the article points out that the funds available have not been used to replenish masks: “With limited resources, warehousing officials typically focus on buying life-saving medicines from small biotechnology companies that do not have a government buyer In another market, experts said that masks and other protective equipment for their products were widely available in normal times and therefore may not have been prioritized for purchase, they said. “
During Donald Trump’s presidency, analysts warned that the United States is unprepared for a serious pandemic.
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“We expect the US and the world to remain vulnerable to the next pandemic of flu or the outbreak of a contagious disease on a large scale, leading to massive death and disability rates, severely affecting the global economy, draining international resources and numbers of calls could increase beyond the support of the United States, ”says the World Threat Assessment 2019 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The Trump administration has not taken any major steps to replenish the masks in the Strategic National Stockpile.
Our rating: Right
We rate this claim as TRUE because it is supported by our research. There is no evidence that the Obama administration has taken significant steps to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it has been exhausted from repeated crises. Calls for action came from experts at the time who were concerned that the country could respond to future major pandemics. For some reason, such recommendations were not followed.
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This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Fact Check: Has the Obama Administration Exhausted the N95 Mask Supply?