**In Letter, the Senators Outline That Domestic Manufacturers of Syringes and Needles Do Not Have the Guidance, Orders or Timeline They Need From the Trump Administration to Produce These Supplies for the Hundreds of Millions of Americans Who Will Need a COVID-19 Vaccine**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) called on the Trump administration to immediately address concerns regarding the domestic supply chain for hypodermic needles and syringes needed to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to the nation once one has been developed. New Hampshire industry partners, including Smiths Medical which manufactures syringes and hypodermic needles in Keene, have raised these concerns with New Hampshire’s congressional delegation.
In their letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence and officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Senators express concern that FEMA is far behind in procuring essential medical supplies to be able to meet the demand for a vaccine when it becomes available. They urged these agencies to work with domestic manufacturers to expeditiously obtain the materials necessary for a vaccine when it becomes available.
They wrote, “It is our understanding that FEMA has issued a solicitation for only finished goods, estimated at approximately 35-75 million across all suppliers, of readily available hypodermic needles, which have not yet been ordered due to FEMA’s focus on procuring other materials. Industry partners in our state have indicated that the amount requested in FEMA’s solicitation and the timing of the award are both woefully inadequate to address the eventual need in administering the vaccine. If an award were issued today for future products, the industry would need approximately 18 months to secure materials and complete production of these supplies, and it is estimated that we will need 600 million hypodermic needles to administer the vaccine in the United States.”
They continued, “Meanwhile, our domestic supply chain is fielding orders for these supplies from other countries and the raw materials necessary to produce finished goods are in high demand. If FEMA does not act quickly, the United States may be too far behind to meet the demand for an eventual vaccine.”
Shaheen and Hassan underscored the severe public health impact that has resulted from the lack of medical supplies and preparedness in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, specifically, the absence of widespread testing. The Senators requested that the administration provide a plan to ensure that hypodermic needles and syringes are ready in time for the delivery of a vaccine. They also asked the administration to provide details on any barriers preventing a faster timeline for completion of contract awards for the acquisition of hypodermic needles and syringes and other essential medical supplies for a vaccination, so eligible industry partners in New Hampshire and across the country are properly prepared.
Shaheen and Hassan closed their letter with an urgent reminder that responding to this pandemic requires a response strategy to address short- and long-term needs. They wrote, “We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented need to prioritize the procurement of personal protective equipment and other materials to address the situation on the ground right now; however, we must be able to pursue both lines of effort simultaneously. We stand ready to provide additional resources in Congress should you identify those needed to procure the delivery systems for a vaccine.”
The letter can be read in full here.