The Trump administration is employing two specific strategies to insure the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) against both a coronavirus resurgence and future pandemics, a senior administration official explained Thursday.
During an off-camera briefing with reporters, the official stated that hindsight showed the SNS only held 28% of the total number of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to fight the coronavirus outbreak. These strategies will give the U.S. the “ability to reload the chamber” on pandemic preparedness “so that America will be able to respond even faster” in the case of future pandemics. (RELATED: After Consulting With Governors, White House Earmarks $11 Billion To Help States Expand Testing Capacities)
In addition to adding new pieces of equipment previously not included in the SNS, like testing supplies, the administration is focusing on “shelf life management” and increased access to “surge capacity manufacturing.” The former can be accomplished by using the commercial marketplace to rotate product off shelves in the SNS, while the latter involves a fundamental restructuring of how the Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Health and Human Services (HHS) assign contracts to equipment manufacturers.
For reference, the official noted the SNS contained roughly 1-3 weeks worth of supplies prior to the coronavirus outbreak. The administration is seeking to make sure the SNS always has enough supplies to last 90 days and has tasked the aforementioned agencies with building manufacturing relationships with private companies so that SNS refueling happens as soon as equipment is shipped out to hotspot areas.
The official added that these strategies will make the SNS “much more robust” and “much less vulnerable.” On masks specifically, he said the SNS goal will be to stockpile 300 million by the fall and 1 billion in the future.
Admiral John Polowczyk, the supply chain task force lead, is currently coordinating efforts for FEMA, DOD, and HHS to build out the new manufacturing relationships with private companies.
He has repeatedly spoken to the Daily Caller about how Project Air Bridge was filling the PPE gap left by an understocked SNS.
“Recognizing that the Strategic National Stockpile alone could not sustain all state, tribal, and territorial requirements for supplies, the federal government has enabled American industry in order to fill the gap,” Polowczyk said in May. “We will continue to build the needed capacity to stabilize the supply chain.”