U.S. big bucks turn global face mask hunt into 'Wild West'
The global scramble to secure face masks to shield frontline workers from the coronavirus has turned the marketplace into the “Wild West”, with the United States often ready to outbid buyers who have already signed deals, European officials say.
In France and Germany, senior officials said the United States was paying far above the market price for masks from number one producer China, on occasion winning contracts through higher bids even after European buyers believed a deal was done. “Money is irrelevant. They pay any price because they are desperate,” one high-level official in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU/CSU group told Reuters. A German government source said: “Americans are on the move, carrying a lot of money.” Since the virus was first recorded in China late last year, the pandemic has spread around the world. Governments in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere are desperately trying to build up supplies for medics, nursing home staff and the public. Now, with global cases surpassing one million and the outbreak exploding in the United States, the competition for precious stocks is intensifying further. The State Department and the agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coordinating U.S. efforts to locate and procure protective equipment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
3 April 2020