At least 5 countries - including a poor Caribbean island - are accusing the US of blocking or taking medical equipment they need to fight the coronavirus

plane miami coronavirus medical supplies

  • The US has been accused of blocking or diverting medical goods that have been ordered by other countries to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In the last week, Germany, France, and Brazil have individually claimed that their medical supply orders from China were diverted in suspicious circumstances.
  • The government of Barbados said that US officials blocked the export of 20 ventilators which had been donated to the island.
  • The Trump administration said the reports of US misconduct are "completely false."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US has been accused of commandeering shipments of masks, ventilators, and other essential medical equipment destined for other countries, as the market for coronavirus supplies becomes increasingly fraught.

Government officials are questioning methods used by the White House to acquire supplies, said to include diverting a shipment of masks intended for German police, and outbidding the original buyers on a large shipment of protective gear bound for France.Advertisement

The Trump administration has pushed back hard against the reports, describing them in a statement to Politico as "completely false."

These are the countries that have so far been affected.

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In what one German official called "an act of modern piracy", 200,000 masks bound for Berlin from China were confiscated en route in Thailand and then diverted to the US on April 3.

In what one German official called "an act of modern piracy", 200,000 masks bound for Berlin from China were confiscated en route in Thailand and then diverted to the US on April 3.

The N95 masks, which were intended for the German police, were first reported to have come from a Chinese factory of US manufacturer, 3M.

But after the company denied this, German officials said they were working to clarify who manufactured the masks, Business Insider reported.

Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for Berlin state, told the Financial Times: "This is no way to treat trans-Atlantic partners. Even in times of global crisis, there should be no wild west methods."

Source: Financial Times

On the same day, French officials claimed that a mask order coming from China was bought from under them at the last moment. They cargo was already on the runway in Shanghai when it was bought for much more money, they said.

On the same day, French officials claimed that a mask order coming from China was bought from under them at the last moment. They cargo was already on the runway in Shanghai when it was bought for much more money, they said.

The masks were reportedly already on a plane bound to leave the airport in Shanghai when US buyers turned up and offered three times the amount the French were paying, according to The Guardian.

Jean Rottner, president of the GrandEst regional council in France, was quoted as telling RTL radio: "On the tarmac, they arrive, get the cash out…so we really have to fight."

While Rottner did not identify who exactly the buyers were, another French official said the group acted for the US government, The Guardian reported.

French politician Rénaud Muselier told the channel BFMTV: "The icing on the cake, there is a foreign country that paid three times the price of the cargo on the tarmac."

In response a senior U.S administration official told AFP: "The United States government has not purchased any masks intended for delivery from China to France. Reports to the contrary are completely false."

Source: The Guardian

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On the Caribbean island of Barbados, a minister said that ventilators donated to the government were blocked from being exported by the US.

On the Caribbean island of Barbados, a minister said that ventilators donated to the government were blocked from being exported by the US.

Barbados Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Col Jeffrey Bostic said in a press conference on Sunday: "They [the ventilators] were seized in the United States. Paid for, but seized, so we are trying to see exactly what is going to transpire there."

"But I remind you that ventilators are one of the most in-demand items in the world today and Barbados is merely wrestling with the other 203 countries and territories around the world seeking to secure as many of these pieces of equipment as possible."

As of April 6, Barbados has 56 confirmed cases of coronavirus and recorded its first death over the weekend, according to The New York Times.

Source: Barbados Today

In Brazil, an order for medical equipment from China was ignored after the US sent around 20 cargo planes to pick up the same products for itself.

In Brazil, an order for medical equipment from China was ignored after the US sent around 20 cargo planes to pick up the same products for itself.

Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in an interview last week: "Our purchases, which we expected to complete in order to be able to supply, many were dropped."

Brazil succeeded in placing a 1.2 billion reais ($228 million) order for essential medical equipment on April 2, although it will not be delivered for 30 days, Reuters reported.

Source: Reuters

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US manufacturing company 3M confirmed on April 3 that the Trump administration ordered it to stop exporting its ventilators from its US production sites to Canada and Latin America. The block was later reversed.

US manufacturing company 3M confirmed on April 3 that the Trump administration ordered it to stop exporting its ventilators from its US production sites to Canada and Latin America. The block was later reversed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week, it would be a "mistake" for the US to limit exports of medical supplies to Canada.

"These are things that Americans rely on and it would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade of essential goods and services, including medical goods, across our border," Trudeau was quoted as saying by Politico.

But on Monday, April 6, the Trump administration changed its mind, announcing that it would allow 3M to continue exporting its US-made respirators to Canada as well as Latin America, the Guardian reported.

To this news, the CEO of 3M Mike Roman, said in a written statement: "I want to thank President Trump and the administration for their leadership and collaboration. These imports will supplement the 35 million N95 respirators we currently produce per month in the United States."

Source: The Guardian

Some US states have now also found themselves competing against each other and the federal government for essential medical supplies.

Some US states have now also found themselves competing against each other and the federal government for essential medical supplies.

After state governors realized that they couldn't rely on the national stockpile, they started to turn on each other.

On April 4, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that it was like "being on eBay with 50 other states."

Cuomo, whose state is battling the nation's worst outbreak said: "I can't find any more equipment. It's not a question of money. We need the federal help and we need the federal help now."

Meanwhile, President Trump seemed to say that help from federal authorities would depend on political preference, and asked governors to be "appreciative," according to The New York Times.

Source: The Guardian

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However, the US is not the only country accused of similar tactics.

However, the US is not the only country accused of similar tactics.

Although most reports like these relate to the US, it is not the only country accused of acting unscrupulously to get medical equipment.

Last week, Spanish authorities claimed that the Turkish government was holding ventilators for "the treatment of their own patients", even though Spanish local authorities already paid millions for them, The Independent reported.

The Trump administration has denied any wrongdoing, and says it is using only "appropriate channels" to source equipment. A senior Trump administration official told Politico that reports of US misconduct are "completely false."

The Trump administration has denied any wrongdoing, and says it is using only "appropriate channels" to source equipment. A senior Trump administration official told Politico that reports of US misconduct are "completely false."

An official said: "The United States government has not confiscated or taken any masks intended for delivery to or ordered by any other country.

"We are producing vast quantities of materials domestically and are working through the appropriate channels to purchase supplies from other nations to meet our needs."

The official spoke to Politico anonymously. Business Insider approached [] for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Business Insider has approached the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

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