A couple of weeks ago, the FDA announced the removal of N95 respirators from its Medical Device Shortage List - a move that signals a sufficient supply of N95 respirators for the first time after more than two years of the pandemic.
For many, this will come as a surprise as N95s have seemingly been in sufficient supply for months. Driven by extra production caused by the first waves of COVID-19, even during the omicron peak, respirators were hardly in short supply.
However, until now, respirators - particularly N95s - have remained on the FDA’s list due to relatively high demand. Despite many models of respirators being easily purchasable for months, the official removal of the devices signals there is a surplus of devices and enough to reach the current demand.
This change is caused by a range of factors. Firstly, an increase in domestic manufacturing of N95 respirators. Further, updates to the FDA supply chain and approval of more respirators by NIOSH have led to further production of the PPE devices.
While the implications of this change globally are unknown, it likely signals an end to respirator shortages worldwide. Unlike earlier in the pandemic, it’s now possible to buy high-performance, certified devices at MSRP.