Scarcity scares

As COVID-19 spreads mass panic across the world, products are disappearing. But the virus has also brought about something more deadly: shortages of life-saving medications. Type 1 diabetic Maddy Smith weighs in on the effects of people buying what they don’t need.

Panic. I thought my heart would race, but, I don’t think it’s beating. I don’t think I’m breathing. I don’t have my insulin, my reservoirs, my syringes. What do I do? How do I live without the things that allow me to wake up each morning? This could have been my reality. Sadly, it is a reality for many others facing medical shortages due to COVID-19. Pharmacies, hospitals and grocery stores alike are experiencing a lack of supplies due to issues with manufacturing, and people in panic aren’t helping. 

How do I live without the things that allow me to wake up each morning?”

— Maddy Smith '22

When the trepidation set in, people went shopping. They bought out hand sanitizers, masks and medications. President Trump only made things worse with premature claims that certain drugs like hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a drug for people with lupus and arthritis, were a “game-changer” against the virus. According to CNN, this caused people to fill unnecessary prescriptions, taking it away from those whose lives depend on it. The drug is being tested for use against the coronavirus, but nothing conclusive has been found. 

Let’s start with toilet paper and hand sanitizers. It’s understandable why people bought these, but really? Do you mean to tell me that you didn’t have soap before? Some shoppers saw the lack of toilet paper and went for baby wipes. These are designed for babies’ sensitive skin, so when their wipes disappeared, parents with young children were furious. Not only were wipes missing, but formula and diapers vanished as well because even their fellow mothers panic-bought supplies. This is putting families in positions where they don’t have the necessities for their child. 

With hygiene products and virus protection shortages, healthcare industries are experiencing dangerous deficits. Masks were bought out both in-person and online. Medical supply producers like PacingMed and BLBM issued statements in January that their products had sold out and warned against buying counterfeits. Healthcare workers have to reuse single-use masks, endangering themselves and others. So please, don’t buy out masks on impulse. Make one; use a bandanna or buy reusable ones that aren’t hospital-grade that our healthcare heroes desperately need. The CDC has sewn and no-sew facemask instructions on their website. 

So please, don’t buy out masks on impulse.”

— Maddy Smith '22

Similarly, there are shortages of pharmacy drugs. As someone who has participated in the quick panic of “do I have enough supplies?” I can attest to the worry of getting medication and medical supplies when your life depends on them. But the solution to that is to buy what you need for the next three months, not a year.

 As a diabetic who needs insulin, I understand that not knowing if your supplies are going to continue to be manufactured is horrible, but knowing that you might be preventing someone from getting what they need is worse.

 I have forgotten to refill prescriptions, order supplies, or left medication at home when I’ve gone on vacation, The stomach-dropping feeling of knowing I don’t have what I need to live is something I will never forget. This is another reason why you certainly shouldn’t be buying medication you don’t need, because it would only cause others the same anxiety.

The president has been making claims about the virus that have yet to be proven true; some even being blatantly false. Despite this, when Trump claimed that HCQ could help fight the coronavirus, people rushed to grab it. 

The worst part about this is the lack of consideration for the people who need it”

— Maddy Smith '22

The worst part about this is the lack of consideration for the people who need it to walk and, in some cases, live.

As someone who is dependent on a drug to live, the thought of running out chills me to my core. 

 Imagine having your joints ache and needing to go to work and cook for your family, but you can barely move. The one medication you need is being used by the people who don’t need it. That would suck, right? So don’t panic-buy medication, especially if your life doesn’t depend on it. 

Another disappointment was the lack of tests and who was able to get them.

Despite the Global Health Security Index rating the U.S. as one of the most prepared countries, we have failed when it comes to testing. People with symptoms weren’t tested right away, and some died without knowing what was killing them. It seemed like celebrities were put in priority. 

There were symptomatic people at home living with their families who did not receive tests, yet the entire Brooklyn Nets basketball team was tested when only one person was showing symptoms”

— Maddy Smith '22

There were symptomatic people at home living with their families who did not receive tests, yet the entire Brooklyn Nets basketball team was tested when only one person was showing symptoms. While testing is improving, it’s still limited and needs to be saved for the people who really need it, like healthcare workers. Due to the lack of testing, healthcare workers are getting sick and continuing to work because they don’t display symptoms. They have a higher chance of getting sick because they work with positive patients and do not have the necessary protective gear. 

Avoid buying masks that healthcare workers could use, make your own instead. Stay safe and remember: we’re all in this position; don’t buy out an entire store.