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Dying from Protection from Gouging

Summary:
David DiSalvo has a write up at Forbes on his experience trying to obtain N95 masks during this pandemic. Federal and state officials say they are "scouring the globe" for PPE while some medical professionals are going without. Here is his summary. Millions of N95 masks have been available throughout the U.S., Canada and the UK during the pandemic, according to brokers trying to sell them. The high price point per mask, driven by extreme demand, has contributed to an overwhelmed reaction among potential buyers, especially in the U.S. Scrutiny surrounding these deals is high because of ongoing scams and claims of price-gouging, both of which are triggering emotionally charged reactions and fear of making deals. Millions of masks are being purchased by foreign buyers and are leaving

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David DiSalvo has a write up at Forbes on his experience trying to obtain N95 masks during this pandemic. Federal and state officials say they are "scouring the globe" for PPE while some medical professionals are going without. Here is his summary.
  • Millions of N95 masks have been available throughout the U.S., Canada and the UK during the pandemic, according to brokers trying to sell them.
  • The high price point per mask, driven by extreme demand, has contributed to an overwhelmed reaction among potential buyers, especially in the U.S.
  • Scrutiny surrounding these deals is high because of ongoing scams and claims of price-gouging, both of which are triggering emotionally charged reactions and fear of making deals.
  • Millions of masks are being purchased by foreign buyers and are leaving the country, according to the brokers, while the domestic need remains alarmingly high.

The entire article is fascinating. Buyers have to be on their guard against scams as there are ample opportunities for fraudsters. Prices for masks, which had been close to $4 a week before, ranged from anywhere between $6 - $7 per mask (at the time of his writing) which has raised concerns about price gouging. Sales to foreigners do not face such scrutiny.
By the end of the day, roughly 280 million masks from warehouses around the U.S. had been purchased by foreign buyers and were earmarked to leave the country, according to the broker — and that was in one day.
(emphasis in the original)

So protection against price gouging is keeping medical professionals from protection against COVID-19.

Hat tip: Marginal Revolution

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