By Chand Bellur
May 7, 2020 at 1:09 p.m. PT
- The novel coronavirus pandemic has killed almost 300,000 people around the world, with nearly 4 million confirmed cases.
- Swabs and collection kits, needed to contain the pandemic, are in short supply.
- Apple granted collection kit manufacturer COPAN $10 million to step up production efforts.
Collection Kits Essential to Beating COVID-19
There’s a lot of information floating around about COVID-19. One point that everyone must understand is that beating the virus is a matter of testing, contact tracing, and isolation. The World Health Organization has been reiterating this message for months, but it often seems to fall on deaf ears.
The simple message of test, trace contacts, and isolate gets drowned out by a cacophony of corporations, hungry for government funds. The best and most useful projects aren’t always the ones that get funded. It’s typical for the government’s interface with corporations to yield unfavorable results for the public. Large corporations take advantage of loans destined for small businesses, choking them out.
The “invisible hand” and market forces won’t do much to contain COVID-19. In times like these, free markets can kill. The current government lacks the leadership necessary to do much other than stockpiling a few necessities, while delegating the rest to states and municipalities. Fortunately, Apple has stepped up to address some critical shortages.
Collection kits are in short supply, due to the need for extensive testing. The kits may seem simple — a swab and a container, however, there’s not enough of them. Healthcare professionals can’t just use Q-tips, as testing swabs must be sterile and composed of nylon.
Apple, using its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, awarded collection kit maker COPAN with $10 million to increase manufacturing. The company will use the money to expand its Southern California manufacturing facility.
Apple’s COPAN Funding Benefits American Manufacturing
Controlling the pandemic requires stay-at-home orders, which wreaks havoc upon the global economy. Some nations had the foresight to pause their economies. They paid corporations to keep employees on the payroll. When things get back to normal, the employees simply go back to work.
Political leaders in the United States took a different tactic. Instead of keeping Americans on the payroll, they passed an uncoordinated package of handouts as corporations shed jobs by the millions. Since the pandemic, approximately thirty-three million Americans have lost their jobs. Analysts predict that many won’t return to work, even after stay-at-home orders rescind.
Apple has managed to fill America’s leadership vacuum to some extent. While our government leaders seem to look at the pandemic as a campaign opportunity, corporations like Apple respond to critical needs with surprising speed and agility. The crisis has shown that large, latent corporations move faster than our seemingly-paralyzed government.
Much of the $10 million going to COPAN for collection kit manufacturing will enrich other enterprises in the United States. Corporations like Pennsylvania-based K2 Kinetics and MWES in Wisconsin will provide much-needed materials and equipment for COPAN’s manufacturing expansion.
The novel coronavirus pandemic will be with us for some time. Some experts expect the disease to linger for two to three years. Given the grim outlook and poor government response, it’s enlightening to see a corporation like Apple step up and do the right thing.
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