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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (July 8, 2020)
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8, 2020
US moving to stockpile syringes
Need will explode when
COVID vaccine is ready
As scientists race to develop a CO-
VID-19 vaccine, some experts warned
that syringes could become the next
face masks – coveted items in short
supply able to plunge the market into
But it appears that the federal gov-
ernment and health care supply compa-
nies learned a lesson from the mad
scramble for masks and other personal
protective equipment that came to sym-
bolize the early weeks of the pandemic.
Rather than wait for a viable vaccine
to stock up on syringes, the federal gov-
ernment is securing them now. To date,
it has signed $260 million in contracts
for their production.
“In the U.S. we’re in a well-positioned
and well-prepared place,” said Chaun
Powell, group vice president of strategic
supplier engagement at hospital sup-
ply-purchasing group Premier Inc.
Global demand could still drain U.S.
manufacturers’ supplies, he warned,
and syringe shortages could emerge if
the vaccine arrives earlier than antici-
A vaccine could be ready by early
2021, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of
the National Institute of Allergy and In-
fectious Diseases, during the Senate
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee this week. But there’s no
guarantee, he warned.
Questions about syringe shortages
began surfacing as early as May.
Dr. Rick Bright, who President Don-
ald Trump had reassigned in April from
leading the Health and Human Services
oﬃce tasked with helping develop a CO-
VID-19 vaccine, submitted a whistle-
blower report on May 5 that – among
other things – warned the United States
would need as many as 850 million
That’s enough to give to every Amer-
ican two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine
and to also handle the increased de-
mand for ﬂu shots that medical experts
see after a pandemic.
Dr. Rick Bright says one of his bosses shrugged off a pending need for syringes.
SHAWN THEW/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES, POOL
In his report, Bright says that when
he raised the issue to his superior, his
boss told him they should worry about
syringes when there was something to
He eventually relayed his concerns to
White House Trade and Manufacturing
Policy Director Peter Navarro who wrote
in a memo to the coronavirus task force:
“Our current inventory of these supplies
is limited and, under current capabili-
ties, it would take up to two years to pro-
duce this amount of specialized safety
needles. We may ﬁnd ourselves in a sit-
uation where we have enough vaccine,
but no way to deliver all of it.”
Bright says he was removed from the
vaccine post because he was critical of
the Trump administration’s leadership
His complaint said the Strategic Na-
tional Stockpile had just 15 million sy-
ringes available in May.
In addition to anticipating a two-shot
vaccine, Bright’s calculations included
about 180 million more syringes for an
increase in requests for ﬂu shots. Powell
said that makes sense.
“In any given year we typically see
about a 4% annual growth rate on ﬂu
shots and last year was estimated
somewhere between 130 and 150 mil-
lion” shots administered, he said. “In a
post-pandemic outbreak year that 4%
jumps to 20%. We saw it historically
with Ebola, we saw it with SARS.”
But the 850 million estimate also as-
sumes every single American will get
the vaccine, which is not possible, or
even necessary for herd immunity.
Still, on a May 7 earnings call, the
CEO of manufacturer Becton, Dickinson
and Company said manufacturers could
make that many – or even a billion – sy-
ringes, but not on a moment’s notice.
“People have to be proactive in begin-
ning to order and stockpile these de-
vices now,” the CEO, Thomas Polen,
said. “It cannot be ‘wait until the last
minute’ and expect that those products
will be able to be manufactured.”
He said some governments around
the world acted quickly to order sy-
ringes from BD, while the company con-
tinued to stress the urgency with other
countries that were not as concerned.
He did not specify which countries
those were. The U.S. put in an order with
BD on May 27.
In a normal year, U.S. hospitals go
through 4.5 billion disposable, plastic
syringes. That doesn’t include syringes
pharmacies and doctors’ oﬃces use for
ﬂu shots. It also doesn’t include the re-
tail market for diabetics or the ﬂush in-
jectors hospitals use for IV ﬂuids.
“If we as a nation had to pivot and
utilize those, we could,” Powell said.
If the market had been required to go
from making 500 million syringes a year
to making an additional 850 million,
that would have been a problem, he
said. But since the U.S. produces bil-
lions, it’s not as much of a stretch.
The U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services has contracted with
four companies to produce at least
820 million syringes – which includes
420 million by the end of this year and
the rest next year.
Some 320 million syringes will come
from two contracts with Retractable
Technologies Inc. in Texas and Mara-
thon Medical Corporation in Colorado,
which got contracts in May for
$83.8 million and $27.4 million respec-
tively. The contract with BD is for
The rest will come in phases from a
$138 million contract with ApiJect Sys-
BD is the largest syringe manufactur-
er in the world and had already in-
creased its production before getting
the government contract in late May, ac-
cording to spokesman Troy Kirkpatrick.
“The U.S. has done a nice job of
ramping up production,” Powell said.
But there are still factors that could
complicate the rollout, he said. If the
vaccine comes earlier than expected,
manufacturers will have less time to
stockpile syringes. There are also ques-
tions about whether companies will
pre-ﬁll syringes with the vaccine or dis-
tribute it in vials separate from the sy-
Health-care providers hope to avoid
the pandemonium that occurred in the
early months of the pandemic as protec-
tive medical gear such as N95 masks be-
Hospital administrators swapped
stories of traveling across state lines to
meet unknown dealers in warehouse
parking lots just for a chance at a few
thousand masks. Buyers were inundat-
ed with oﬀers with no way to weed out
scams. Governors called out the lack of
coordination and support from the fed-
Phones have virus tracker, sort of
Many surprised by recent
discovery of tracing tool
USA TODAY NETWORK
PHOENIX – Yes, your phone might already have a
tool to help track COVID-19 on it. No, it’s not tracking
Many Arizonans were surprised recently to discov-
er that their phones have a COVID-19 tracking tool that
came with the latest update of their operating system.
The tool, though, isn’t yet being used in Arizona. It
would require the Department of Health Services to
develop an application and submit it to the tech com-
panies for approval. Also, users would have to agree to
The presence of “COVID-19 Exposure Logging” on
phones is unsettling to some nonetheless, as many
people have discovered the tool and assumed it was
already in use by governments or tech companies to
track people’s health.
Twitter and Facebook are full of references tying the
update to June 22 cellular outages. It wasn’t related. If
you have the tool on your phone, it came from the lat-
est operating system download you approved.
Facebook has even screened some of the referenc-
es, indicating they have been fact checked and are
partly false. But many other references remain, many
encouraging people not to turn the notiﬁcations on.
To see if the tool is on an Android device, go to “Set-
tings” and then “Google Settings.”
To see if the tool is on an iPhone, go to “Settings”
and then “Privacy” and then “Health.”
In April, Apple and Google announced the platform
was coming, and it’s been reported in the technology
press such as Wired.
“Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost
importance in this eﬀort, and we look forward to build-
ing this functionality in consultation with interested
stakeholders,” the companies said in an April joint
statement announcing the partnership. “We will open-
ly publish information about our work for others to an-
If a health department wanted to develop an app for
people to allow contact tracing, the platform from
Google and Apple would ensure that it worked on
all phones running those operating systems.
An app would use Bluetooth signals to indicate
when two people, or at least their phones, are near one
another. It could store the data for 14 days, the
maximum time it seems to take people to get sick
when exposed to the new coronavirus.
If a person using the app tests positive for CO-
VID-19, that person could notify the app, which could
then notify those people who had spent enough time
near the infected person to warrant concern. A health
department could give them instructions on how to
prevent spreading the virus to others or seek treat-
ment, if needed.
The companies further explained the platform
The presence of “COVID-19 Exposure Logging” on
phones is unsettling to some who assumed it was
already in use by governments or tech companies.
when it was released in May for public health agencies
to use if they wanted.
“What we’ve built is not an app – rather public
health agencies will incorporate the (application pro-
gramming interface) into their own apps that people
install,” the companies said, explaining that the part-
nership is intended to make public apps for contact
tracing work better.
“Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to
Exposure Notiﬁcations,” they said. “The system does
not collect or use location from the device; and if a per-
son is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them
whether or not to report that in the public health app.
User adoption is key to success and we believe that
these strong privacy protections are also the best way
to encourage use of these apps.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services de-
clined to respond regarding whether the agency had
any intention of developing an app that could use the
Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina were
working to use the companies’ technology, and Apple
and Google reported that 22 other nations have shown
Despite the announcements the platform was com-
ing, ﬁnding it embedded on phones seems to have giv-
en the eﬀort new reality for consumers, even if it’s not
Phil Simon, a technology expert, author, speaker
and adviser who lives in Arizona, said the distrust of
tech companies is not unexpected, and neither is the
social media storm of misinformation that ensued.
Please recycle this newspaper
“Outrage sells more than facts,” Simon said. “Stud-
ies have indicated people share fake news more than
they share facts.”
He said the propensity to distrust technology com-
panies stems from instances in which those compa-
nies or their employees have acted in bad faith, but the
contact tracing platform doesn’t concern him, and he
doesn’t think that they are doing it as a way to generate
“They are agreeing this is a way to potentially limit
its spread,” Simon said. “Their motives, I think, are be-
nign. I’m OK with a little information sharing if it’s go-
ing to keep me alive and keep me from spreading dis-
ease to people.”
If states do deploy apps to help with contact tracing,
building trust and getting people to participate will be
important, Simon said.
“These apps beneﬁt from network eﬀects,” he said.
“The more people that use it, the better it is.”
Ken Colburn, founder and CEO of Data Doctors
Computer Services in Arizona, recently wrote about
the platform, noting that some of the shortcomings
could be people traveling between states needing to
use separate apps and health agencies conﬁrming
positive cases before alerting potential contacts.
But he, too, said the presence of the platform on
phones is not a concern.
“For the time being, there’s nothing to be concerned
about if your smartphone has the ‘Exposure Notiﬁca-
tion’ option, as you are in total control,” Colburn said.
be seeing from outraged social media posts, neither
company is automatically tracking your movements or
forcing your device to engage in contact tracing.”
Patrick Joseph Fisher
MT. ANGEL - Patrick Fisher, of rural Woodburn,
passed away at home from multiple health issues.
He was the son of Leonard and Marie Fisher of
Mt. Angel, who owned the Mt, Angel Drug Store
for many years. Patrick graduated from Mt. Angel
Prep and attended the University of Portland. He
served 4 years in the US Air Force and then worked
in Seattle for 28 years at Lynden Transport. He
Married Christl in 1978 and she died in 2000. He
rekindled a romance from post-military years,
and married Carole Schneider Lake in 2002. They
traveled to Hawaii, Europe, China, Australia, and
Alaska they also went to on many cruises. Patrick
loved watching sports, especially the Mariners
and Seahawks. He was also an avid supporter of
many charitable causes. He is survived by his wife,
Carole; siblings, Joan Jones, Char Unrein, David
Fisher, and Sharon Patterson, as well as many
nieces and nephews. A private graveside service
has already been held.
Donations can be made in Patrick’s memory to
The Wounded Warriors Project (PO box 758516,
Topeka, KS 66675-8516 or online) or the Bene-
dictine Sisters (Abbey Foundation of Oregon,
Box 497, St. Benedict, OR 97373-0497 Assisting
the family is Unger Funeral Chapel - Mt. Angel.