The New York Times | April 9, 2020
Zambia is at the very beginning of its epidemic curve with only one death so far, but it is already struggling to source masks, as well as testing materials like swabs and reagents, says Charles Holmes, a board member of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and the former chief medical officer for the Obama administration’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.
When Zambia tried to place an order for N95 masks, Dr. Holmes said, the broker tried to sell them for “five to 10 times” more than the usual cost, despite checks revealing the masks expired in 2016.
“It’s difficult for countries or governments having those conversations with manufacturers, when much wealthier countries are having those same conversations,” he said. “The private sector is likely to respond to the highest bidder for many of these supplies, that’s just business.”