The Covid-19 pandemic has been ongoing for several years, and hospitals have faced many hardships as a result. At the beginning of the pandemic, hospitals and healthcare workers had to adapt to the new normal, hearing promises from government officials that things would get better soon. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, the world was unprepared. Hospitals hadn’t imagined that they would need so many masks, gloves, respirators and more. Very soon, they lacked the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe, and the general public did too, but by the third year of the pandemic, PPE should be readily available where needed.
The Omicron variant has spread rapidly, and cases are surging as a result. Many states and provinces are experiencing a shortage of N95 and KN95 masks, which are deemed the best masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. In addition, rapid antigen tests are increasingly difficult to find in most provinces and many states. PCR tests are also hard to find in many provinces, often reserved for healthcare professionals or vulnerable populations.
In Canada, the government has distributed rapid antigen tests to the provinces, which are often given out at pop-up clinics. However, there are long line-ups to get the tests, and they are gone within minutes, which isn’t accessible for most. Some pharmacies sell the tests, but they are expensive and still hard to come by. The lack of testing available makes it difficult for people to know if they are positive for Covid-19 and can result in further spreading of the disease.
In addition to PPE and Covid-19 tests, there is now a shortage of all blood specimen collection tubes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised healthcare professionals to minimise the use of blood collection tubes. They have stated that healthcare professionals should only perform blood draws when medically necessary, and they should consider sharing samples between lab departments when possible.
The lack of PPE and, now, shortage of blood collection tubes shows that hospitals and other healthcare institutions still are not equipped to handle this pandemic. At this rate, there may be a shortage of other medical devices down the line, and the healthcare system could suffer further.