With an outbreak of coronavirus worldwide, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, respirators, and gowns, ventilators, etc. has surged drastically in the last few weeks. Reversibly, the demand for PPE far outstrips supply. Doctors, along with conscious people, are buying this equipment to shield them against the onslaught of the COVID-19. However, you must ensure the quality of products before committing to others.
What is personal protective equipment (PPE):
Protective masks (e.g. medical or surgical masks, type FFP2 or FFP3), face shields, protective glasses, protective gloves, and clothing, etc. are commonly known as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Generally, healthcare workers who are involved in the combat against the COVID-19 crisis, protect themselves wearing these PPE.
Purpose of personal protective equipment
The primary purpose of personal protective equipment is to protect the wearer’s body from infection or reduce associated risks to acceptable levels. PPE is needed when someone is to deal with the patients who carry this emerging virus.
How PPE works against COVID-19
Having a preventive approach, PPE imposes an impediment to the transmission of COVID-19. Proper use of PPE ensures safe and healthy working conditions in the hospitals and isolation centers. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommends that everyone wear PPE during the treatment of COVID-19 patients to reduce workplace hazards.
Who is the leading country for manufacturing PPE?
Undoubtedly, China holds the top position in producing PPE. Additionally, China is the primary source of raw materials that are needed to manufacture PPE. Approximately 50 percent of surgical masks globally are being produced in China. Other Asian countries such as Vietnam, India, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, North American countries such as Mexico, the United States (US), and several European countries produce PPE on a medium scale.
How does the demand for PPE increase?
With the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for PPE products has risen by a thousand times. All the countries around the globe determine to either produce PPE locally or import on a large scale. Being the largest exporter of PPE, China has already accelerated its production significantly. Nevertheless, the production does not meet global demand. For such reasons, both developed and developing countries are adopting different approaches. For instance, government officials of a country recommend the public to wear cloth face masks as a stopgap until effective medical masks can be imported.
Who is to wear what kind of PPE?
Due to insufficient stockpile of PPE globally, especially medical respirators, masks, gowns and goggles, WHO has already emphasized using PPE properly and advised not to make overstock or panic buying. Because these activities may result in a global shortage of PPE and widespread devastation. Health care workers, as well as cleaners who are directly dealing with COVID-19 patients, are recommended to wear all types of PPE such as Respirator N95 or FFP2 standard, or equivalent, gown, gloves, eye protection, apron, etc. While a Medical mask, Gown and Gloves should suffice for visitors entering the room where COVID19 patients are under treatment. Uses of PPE should be certainly monitored for considering the necessity of PPE at this critical juncture.
What to Checking For Buying PPE:
Here, I am going to talk about some of the key issues, which are to be considered while buying PPE from China or anywhere in the world:
- Supplier Background:
Few entrepreneurs may evolve from this critical situation and they might come to you with lucrative quotations of different medical equipment. They are not originally involved with the medical industry; rather they turn into a medical equipment supplier given the opportunity of business of the essential goods. They aim to exploit the situation and their limited resources to earn some quick money. As a result, it is highly advised to check with the supplier background before making any financial transaction. As a part of examining your supplier strength, you can check the following things:
i. Product Brand
ii. Manufacturer or Trader
iii. Origin of manufacturer
v. Business License
vi. Headquarter of the original manufacturer
vi. Office of a third-party agency
2. Product design
Whether it is cheap or inexpensive, simple or sophisticated, the product must be user friendly as well as effective. For example, a face mask. You might have thought that this is very simple to produce and there is nothing to check. But, you must ensure the following issues before buying.
i. whether it has a loose fit or tight fit
ii. whether it will allow the user to breathe without restriction
iii. whether it is secured with ear loops
iv. layers of fabric as well as fabric quality
v. Whether it is washable or one time use
Consider the below aspects while buying any PPE:
Chance of accident during using
Chance of Failure
Make a Test-Buy:
Before going to order in bulk quantity, ask your supplier to ship a small lot. Test the product in your lab. You must be sure that your supplier will send the quality product you will be paying for. For example, masks are to be tested for Bacteria Filtering Efficiency (BFE) based on an existing standard.
Is it always possible to ask your supplier for a sample? Do you have enough time to wait for samples, test the sample in your lab? This might not be feasible amid this critical situation when the dangers of coronavirus are increasing exponentially. Additionally, the shutdown of airline operations makes the situation intractable to bring the goods quickly. In such circumstances, taking the help of any third-party quality control agency like AQI Service is an age-appropriate decision. They will test the product in their lab, on behalf of you and generate a report as to what to decide. In essence, you must assign an institution that owns a lab equipped with the latest technology. Otherwise, the decision relying on an unauthentic report will redirect you to poor quality products.