(Health Affairs) — The sudden emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 caught the nations of the world off guard. A global pandemic of this scale is unlike anything experienced in modern times.

While governments and private sector organizations were equipped with disaster plans and some form of stockpiles at the outset, COVID-19 exposed a number of supply chain vulnerabilities, including a lack of holistic transparency into supply sources, a fragmented approach to ordering and fulfillment, public/private partnership challenges and a reliance on offshore manufacturing for essential products.

In many ways, the pandemic has been akin to swimming in rough waters, with health care providers facing wave after wave of critical challenges. In this post we describe those waves and suggest ways that policymakers and stakeholders can avoid being submerged and can strengthen our nation’s response to this and future pandemics.

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