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Our supply chains are at risk

Trump recently made this statement: “Look at even, things like supply change, things we never even heard about. You never heard that term. Everything worked under me.” He was actually referring to supply chains. But his claims he never heard of supply chains and that everything worked under him are provably false. For source, search on: “MTN Confused Trump: Supply Change. You Never Heard That Term.”

It’s true that not everybody is familiar with supply chains, but everybody should know this: every commodity, and that includes pharmaceuticals, requires one or more supply chains to get it from the producer to the end customer.

Do you remember Operation Warp Speed? Trump got a lot of credit for funding it. The first part was great, with Moderna’s and Pfizer’s scientists developing safe and effective vaccines in record time. What should have been happening at the same time, was the development of the supply chains that would be needed to get the vaccines to the ultimate users. That’s where Trump, in his ignorance, bungled it royally.

At the beginning of the pandemic, some existing supply chains were already being disrupted as people began hoarding things like bathroom tissue, disposable gloves, and more. That should have been a tip off regarding the importance of supply chains.

And it should have been obvious that the supply chains for the Covid vaccines would have to be far larger and faster than anything ever attempted before. To make matters worse, the vaccines require refrigeration, thus require cold supply chains. The technology was known, it’s just that the requirements are far more stringent.

Trump should have called upon the U.S. Army’s logistics branch for assistance: it has the requisite knowledge of supply chain management. He didn’t. To simplify the federal government’s job, Trump declared the states responsible for their own supply chains. That’s when coordinating communications broke down.

The most the states could hope for was a short one-week’s notice of how much vaccine they would get in their next allotment. But the amount that each state received fluctuated week by week. State health officials said the unpredictable shipments led to chaos on the ground, including the inability to quickly use up all of the doses sent to them. For further detail, search on: “How Operation Warp Speed Created Vaccination Chaos.”

The point I want to make is that Trump can’t, or won’t, understand the importance of supply chains. America is a powerhouse player in the global economy, with 200 trade partners. It is in our best interests to maintain neutral business relationships with our trade partners and retain established supply lines.

Trump, on the other hand, wants to treat the countries we trade with not as partners, but adversaries. He has spoken of putting tariffs of 60% or more on goods from China, effectively ending that partnership. We don’t need that kind of negative thinking. Or more precisely, we need to not have that kind of thinking or acting.

John H. Terrell


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