Saturday, March 28, 2020

Pandemic Profiteering

A frenetic international market in ventilators and medical supplies has gathered pace in recent weeks as governments scramble to purchase equipment.
Prices for equipment have been rocketing - often changing by the hour.
The equipment is usually made in China and is then purchased by middlemen who offer it on. An array of fixers and consultants are often involved along the supply chain and some are adding huge price mark-ups on equipment they say they can get hold of in the current crisis.
"There are going to be some multi-millionaires made," said one person who works in this world.

The market price for one particular type of ventilator increased in a week from $27,000 (£21,700) to $96,000 (£77,100) - a sign of just how intense the demand is. 
It is thought there have been cases where offers have been made of equipment which turn out not to exist, or where multiple agents were offering the same items. There is also the concern that items might not meet the correct standards. Some testing kits purchased by countries, including Spain, have shown low levels of accuracy, making them unusable.
Middle Eastern and North African countries have been purchasing from the Middle East-based supplier and the US has been offering to buy up large amounts of stocks at a premium over what others will pay. An Eastern European country recently upped the stakes by offering cash in advance. Some of the companies and individuals involved in this trade operate in the arms and defence industry, acting as intermediaries between manufacturers and militaries, others are new arrivals seeking to leverage contacts in China or elsewhere. 

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