Not by a long shot, in fact.
As reported by Zero Hedge on Sunday, the next wave of shortages has already begun: Common-use over-the-counter medications like the painkillers Tylenol and ibuprofen:
In the weeks since California became the first state to order residents to shelter in place, millions of Americans have grappled with an alarming fact: That shortages of products from Tylenol to toilet paper have continued. If anything, they've gotten worse, even as governors like Andrew Cuomo have pleaded with the public not to hoard and buy up supplies like gloves and masks that are needed by health-care professionals.
Health officials and logistics experts have largely dismissed these shortages as emblematic of panic-buying and of course, to a degree that’s true. But how come, if we’re such a well-stocked nation, are shortages of these items persisting?
In a recent article exploring these continued shortages, CNBC reports that basic products and commonly used medications are disappearing from pharmacies across New York City, and they’re not returning.
Granted, NYC is the current epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — and there are a lot of people who live in the city (8 million or so). But where is its supply line?
CNBC noted that, based on interviews with local pharmacy and shop owners, some items are on backorder at least until the end of the month.
“I never thought a pharmacy in the 21st century can run out of essentials, the most basic medications,” Emanuel Simhayev, owner of Get Well Rx Pharmacy in Astoria, Queens, told the financial news site.
“When you face this hardship you cannot really help much. You do your best,” he added.
Tylenol is on backorder until April 30 at Broadway Chemists on the Upper West Side. The shop’s pharmacist, Sophia Liristis, told CNBC most medications and medical equipment used to combat or protect against the virus are on backorder or are being rationed by wholesalers with extremely limited quantities. (Related: Crematoriums in New York City are so overwhelmed with bodies of coronavirus victims they are running 24/7, the same as they were in China.)
After checking the ordering system last week, Liristis discovered that other items — thermometers, latex gloves and masks — would not be available until sometime in May.
Pulse oximeters, which are used to monitor the level of oxygen in blood, won’t be available until May 31. And Ventolin inhalers, which are used to ease symptoms of shortness of breath, are only being sold to retailers two units at a time, CNBC noted.
And whether it’s effective in treating coronavirus or not, antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is in short supply as well, as is azithromycin, often sold under the brand name Zithromax Z-pak, which has been shown to have some effectiveness. Soon, these drugs, too, will become unavailable.
“There’s a shortage of everything — it’s never enough,” Evangeline Frezoulis, 37, the pharmacy manager at S Bros Pharmacy in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. “The wholesalers are not able to supply as many pharmacies as needed.
Vitamin and zinc supplements are long gone, she added.
There has been some improvisation, according to CNBC:
City Drug & Surgical in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood has been making hand sanitizer since the brand names sold out about three weeks ago. Yelena Yoffe, the pharmacy owner, said it takes about 40 minutes to make a batch of 24 bottles. They sell out the same day.
The belief that something like this isn’t supposed to happen in the 21st century is, obviously, misplaced. Of course it can happen. Imagine a virus that is twice as lethal as coronavirus. Or ten times as lethal.
Seriously, who’s laughing at preppers now? Because if you are, you’re not paying attention to the slow-motion collapse going on around you.