Updated Dec 26, 2021 - Health

New supply chain crisis: medical supplies

Animation of a shipping container with a loading screen on it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Between 8,000 and 12,000 shipping containers carrying medical supplies to various parts of the U.S. are on a delay of up to 37 days due to ongoing transportation congestion, according to new data from the Health Industry Distributors' Association.

Why it matters: Per their projections, medical supplies arriving at a U.S. port on Christmas Day won't be delivered to hospitals and other care settings until February 2022. That could delay critical supplies at a time when health care is already expected to most need them due to surges from Delta and Omicron.

Details: The supply chain problems can compound, starting with medical supplies languishing in U.S. ports for an average of 17 days, officials said.

  • HIDA research also shows containers with medical supplies are delayed an average of 11 days by rail, and nine days by truck.
  • The top five ports with congestion issues are Los Angeles/Long Beach; Savannah, Georgia; New York/New Jersey; Charleston, South Carolina and Seattle.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Dec. 20.

Go deeper