March 4, 2020
As part of the government-wide efforts to respond to the global outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services intends to purchase 500 million N95 respirators over the next 18 months for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Through guaranteed orders, this acquisition encourages manufacturers to immediately increase production of N95s for use by health care professionals. These guaranteed orders offer reassurance to manufacturers that they will not be left with excess supplies if private sector orders are cancelled once the COVID-19 response subsides. Manufacturers typically avoid ramping up production without such a guarantee.
Private sector orders would be filled before the SNS order. The SNS currently holds millions of N95 respirators that may be used in accordance with the Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an emergency, the SNS could disperse the existing products as well as any available quantity obtained through future contracts to areas in need as requested by state health officials.
This SNS acquisition of N95 respirators is part of a broader effort to maximize the availability of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are on the front lines in mitigating community spread of COVID-19.
In addition, on March 2, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted a request from the CDC for an emergency use authorization (EUA) to allow health care personnel to use certain National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved respirators – not currently regulated by the FDA – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Together, the SNS acquisition and the FDA and CDC action will help maximize the number of respirators available to meet the needs of the U.S. health care system.
No proposals have been received and no contracts have been executed to date. The solicitation for proposals opened March 4; proposals must be received by March 18, 2020.
N95 respirators are respiratory protective devices designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.
The Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.