Shanghai Lockdown Causing Global Medical Imaging Supply Shortage

Medical Imaging
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General Electric (GE) Healthcare said on Wednesday a shortage of medical dye caused by a Chinese coronavirus lockdown of its production plant in Shanghai, China, has affected not only hospitals in the U.S. and Germany but also in other regions of the world, Reuters reported.

Reuters on May 11 paraphrased a spokesman for GE Healthcare as saying that “the weeks-long outage at the company’s Shanghai production plant due to the city’s COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] lockdown is not only affecting U.S. hospitals but also other world regions it did not specify, though to a less extent.”

Some of the largest hospitals in the U.S. prepared this week to endure critical shortages of medical dye normally sourced from GE Healthcare’s Shanghai factory. The medical imaging-focused company, which is a subsidiary of the U.S.-based multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE), has responded to the shortage by asking its manufacturing plant in Ireland to increase its output of medical dye agents and sending the products to hospitals via expedited air freight shipments.

TOPSHOT - A transit officer, wearing a protective gear, controls access to a tunnel in the direction of Pudong district in lockdown as a measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Shanghai on March 28, 2022. - Millions of people in China's financial hub were confined to their homes on March 28 as the eastern half of Shanghai went into lockdown to curb the nation's biggest Covid outbreak. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

A transit officer wearing protective gear controls access to a tunnel in Shanghai on March 28, 2022. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are working around the clock to expand capacity of our iodinated contrast media products, including drawing on our global manufacturing network,” GE Healthcare said through a spokesman Wednesday.

The association of German hospitals told Reuters on May 11 that “one of its members had been alerted by the GE unit [in Shanghai] that its contrast agent could go out of stock in June, citing the Shanghai outage.”

The German hospital association said it was “uncertain whether diagnostics procedures would have to be cancelled or to what degree the affected hospital could draw on inventories.”

GE Healthcare’s manufacturing plant in Shanghai reopened earlier this week after a month-long closure caused by the city’s lockdown, which began April 5. Local health officials had yet to allow the factory to return to full capacity as of May 11 due to the Communist Party’s strict anti-epidemic policies, meaning the medical dye shortages continued unabated.

GE Healthcare has been suffering from a shortage of its Shanghai-produced medical dye products since at least mid-April. The medical equipment company issued a letter to customers April 19 in which it revealed it was “rationing orders for its iohexol products after a COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] lockdown temporarily shut down its production facility for iodinated contrast media in Shanghai, China.”

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