COVID-19 ppe doctors hospitals
A group of doctors working with patients infected with the novel coronavirus COVID-19 wear face shields at the Intensive Care Unit of the Hospital de Clinicas in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on April 15, 2020. SILVIO AVILA/AFP via Getty Images

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the globe and turned the medical industry on its head, one of the most unsettling images that went viral showed nurses from Manhattan, New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital wearing not just masks, face shields and gloves over their scrubs, but trash bags as well.

“NO MORE GOWNS IN THE WHOLE HOSPITAL” read one of the image’s caption.

Although non-graphic in nature, the photo shocked everyone that saw it, as it encapsulated the problems many hospitals experienced. On top of being overwhelmed with severely ill people and trying to understand how best to prevent the spread of the new virus, healthcare workers also had to deal with a staggeringly short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Among those in short supply were N95 respirators, masks, gowns and nitrile gloves.

Pandemic results in nitrile glove shortage

Usually used for protection from bacteria, fungus, viruses and even punctures, nitrile gloves are extremely important for hospitals and medical practitioners. During the pandemic however, overseas supply constraints led to record levels of glove shortages across the country.

In fact, data shows that even after a year under the pandemic, PPE shortage still persists. It also didn’t help that at the peak of the pandemic in April, former U.S. president Donald Trump called PPE shortages “fake news,” dismissing the pleas for help by healthcare workers.

As the pandemic went on, nitrile gloves have become much more sought after -- not only by hospitals and doctors, but by everyday people to help curb the spread of the virus.

The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) was caught flat-footed. Ill-equipped to handle a pandemic of this scale, the SNS was severely unprepared. As a result, sources were exhausted, and makers were struggling to keep up with the growing demand.

“We have health centers calling us every day trying to get their hands on gloves. These aren’t our usual clients, they’re coming to us because they’re desperate to find gloves,” Sebastian Lenoble, director of Netherlands-based Shield Scientific, told France24.

One such item that is severely understocked are nitrile gloves, which are extremely useful for protection against COVID. pixabay (CC0)

Overseas manufacturers also saw orders for 11 to 12 billion gloves a month, a critical jump from the 4.5 billion before the pandemic. Unfortunately, the demand could not be met on time, as production costs rose in addition to raw materials being in short supply.

“The shortage of raw material for our nitrile gloves and the disruption to the supply or production of other material such as packaging materials due to the global lockdown, has caused an increase in the production cost, which would then be passed down on to consumers in the form of higher prices,” said Top Glove. In fact, prices have also risen across several manufacturers, in addition to long waiting times for distribution.

Alert Care steps up to help

Thankfully, manufacturers stepped in to help meet the growing need, one of which is Alert Care. A leading producer and marketer of home healthcare products with over 35 years of experience, the U.S.-based medical supply distributor stood up to the call to fight the shortage of nitrile gloves and provide a sorely-needed solution.

Using the vast and solid supply chain that it has managed to establish through years of hard work, Alert Care was able to find factories in Thailand, China and Malaysia to manufacture the much-needed medical gloves and guarantee they’re certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with 510(k) clearance. This is in addition to the company’s already comprehensive list of home healthcare products dedicated to make life easier and safer during the pandemic.

Alert Care’s willingness and initiative to step up amid the constraints was a welcome reprieve for the U.S. health sector as it was able to provide supplies needed across the country at a time most needed.

The nitrile gloves manufactured by Alert Care are puncture- and BPA-free, and are ambidextrous for easier use.

“Thanks to the vast and solid network and supply chain of Alert Care in China and Southeast Asia, we are able to offer quality medical nitrile gloves wherever they are greatly needed. We are confident that our distribution partner Vastmedic will get these gloves to the right places in no time, helping to end the nitrile exam glove shortage,” said Luke Cowley, a spokesperson from Alert Care.

Extremely durable and protective, Alert Care’s medical-grade “Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves” can be used in different settings, both commercial and at home. Single-use and blue to make them easily identifiable, the gloves are puncture resistant with a finger thickness of 4mm. They're also ambidextrous, and are made from 100% latex and BPA-free.

The gloves are currently being solely distributed by Vastmedic. A U.S.-based home medical supply company and online retailer that aims to supply most-in-need products to the public at affordable prices, Vastmedic has coordinated with Alert Care to send millions of gloves to places where they are sorely needed not just by healthcare workers and frontliners, but also by everyday individuals in this new normal.

As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic, companies like Alert Care and Vastmedic stepping up to help tackle critical problems like the shortage of nitrile gloves is a great sign for the country’s short-term health and long-term resilience.