Across the globe, nations are doing whatever they can in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. And while different strategies are being used in different countries, the use of medical devices to combat the virus is well-known with ventilators, medical masks and testing kits seen as the best way to save lives, protect healthcare professionals and allow the lifting of lockdown measures.
As we all know, the pressure on hospitals and healthcare providers has never been greater. The entire purpose of ‘flattening the curve’ is to reduce the load on hospitals and healthcare providers, preventing them from being overwhelmed and ultimately allowing more lives to be saved. However, even though we are in a crisis we still have to be mindful about the safety and efficacy of the products being used.
At the end of March, it was reported that several European governments had "rejected Chinese-made equipment designed to combat the coronavirus outbreak". Authorities in Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands said that "thousands of testing kits and medical masks are below standard or defective".
Indeed, the Netherlands ordered the recall of 600,000 face masks which had been delivered from China - and had already been issued to medical teams. This, it goes without saying, is the last thing governments and health bodies need to be dealing with.
Thankfully, the European Commission has responded strongly, adopting harmonised standards for medical devices. According to Stella Kyriakides, the EC's Commissioner for Health, this will "speed up the entry of safe, essential medical equipment and devices such as masks, gowns and suits in the EU market".
It is encouraging to see swift responses made to ensure that safety standards are met with medical devices which are playing a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19.
By setting clear standards, manufacturers will be able to ensure their products are in full compliance – hopefully preventing issues like those mentioned previously. Having to manage a recall, during such a critical period, is far from ideal – but it is also important that organisations are prepared so they can respond quickly should one be needed.