Weekly Update 3/31/23

FDA expects COVID-related shortages to normalize this year

The FDA’s medical device shortage page as of December 2022 listed 16 supply disruptions that were forecast to last for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. With the U.S. government set to end the public health emergency in May, the regulator has revised its forecasts for most of the products.

The FDA now predicts the supply of multitarget respiratory specimen nucleic acid tests, micropipettes, microbiological specimen collection devices and other products used in response to the pandemic will return to normal in the first half of the year. Many of the shortages date back to the creation of the list of supply disruptions in August 2020.


Trans-Atlantic container rates still double pre-COVID levels

Container shipping rates are not back to normal quite yet. Trans-Pacific rates have returned to pre-COVID levels, but pricing in trans-Atlantic markets has not.

Spot container rates from Europe to the U.S. — while falling — are still more than twice pre-pandemic rates. U.S. imports from Europe remain strong, with building materials supporting volumes.

Drewry and FBX spot assessments

The Drewry World Container Index (WCI) spot-rate assessment for Rotterdam, Netherlands, to New York was $5,061 per forty-foot equivalent unit in the week ending Thursday. That’s down 32% from last year’s peak but still 2.5 times rates in March 2019.


Nationwide German transport strike causes major disruptions

Almost all planes, trains and buses in Germany were at a standstill on Monday after a nationwide 24-hour strike began at midnight.

Preparations for the strike had already caused major weekend travel disruptions.

Two major unions are deadlocked in negotiations with public sector employers in several transport sectors — including rail, local public transport, and airport ground staff — and organized the strike to coincide with the start of a third round of talks.

Frank Werneke, head of the Verdi union that represents around 2.5 million public sector employees, spoke of the biggest strike in decades.

Long-distance and regional trains and local public transport all affected

The German rail network was similarly paralyzed. The EVG union said more than 30,000 railway workers have joined the strike.