China has made efforts to ensure the medical supplies needed for COVID-19 prevention and control after it loosened its epidemic measures in early December, which was followed by an increase in infections and surging demand for medicines.
The country's National Medical Products Administration has urged medical regulatory authorities at all levels to adopt various enhanced measures, such as sending personnel to factories for inspections and strengthening quality sampling inspections, to safeguard medical supplies needed, such as therapeutic medicines, testing reagents, vaccines, medical masks and protective suits.
Pharmaceutical enterprises have also striven to secure supply.
East China's Shandong Province is the largest production base of raw materials for antipyretic analgesic medicines in the country. Many companies in the province focus on export markets, but quickly adjusted their distribution channels and increased production capacity in order to secure domestic supplies.
Local government departments have also helped companies to access to raw materials and transportation to ensure the stability of the industrial supply chain for key products. Raw materials and preparations have been produced at full capacity, Zhang Haibo, director at the Department of Industry and Information Technology in Shandong Province, told China Media Group.
Zhang said that they would also coordinate between production enterprises, medical institutions and commercial circulation among others, and organize the delivery of medicines to improve the accessibility to medicines for the people.
Pharmaceutical companies across the country have also adopted measures, such as technological transformations and new production lines, to expand production capacity and meet market demand.
Tan Guanghua, general manager at Pharmaceutical Business Department of Guangzhou Xiangxue Pharmaceutical Co., LTD. in south China's Guangdong Province, said that they have opened two new production lines to produce Chinese patent medicines and increase daily production capacity by about 50 percent.
For antigen detection reagents, Zhou Jian, deputy general of the consumer product industry department at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a press conference on December 14 that all 42 manufacturers have been included in a government white list and were required to procure and store key materials to ensure sufficient supply of the reagents.
Zhou said the country's vaccine could also meet the needs of the current epidemic prevention and control, since China has built the world's largest production line of COVID-19 vaccine, with an annual capacity of more than 7 billion doses and an output of over 5.5 billion doses.
In response to the rising demand for N95 masks, the country has improved its production, according to Zhou.
Medical services provided by hospitals and clinics
Multiple makeshift fever clinics have been set up at the grassroots level in cities in east China's Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, central Henan Province and southern Guangdong Province to provide timely treatment for people with COVID-19 symptoms.
Doctors in the makeshift clinics would diagnose patients and prescribe drugs, making it convenient for locals in urgent need of medical services.
In southwest China's Guizhou Province, some community clinics have opened online consulting services which support medicine prescription and delivery. Some medical institutions have set up special treatment channels for vulnerable groups of people such as the elderly, the pregnant and infants.
Shanghai has expanded the capacity of fever clinics in community health service centers, branch centers and village clinics to receive the increasing numbers of patients.
China has a three-tier system to grade hospitals, with primary, secondary and tertiary hospitals. Primary and secondary hospitals usually receive patients from certain communities and districts. In Shanghai, these two levels of hospitals so far have responded to 60 percent of the whole treatment requirements.
Tertiary hospitals have the largest number of beds and provide comprehensive medical services and are at the top of the list. Many tertiary hospitals in Shanghai have enlarged their ICU capacity and increased their medicine inventories.
Beijing Municipality urged its tertiary hospitals to play a role in medical treatment, give full play to expert teams, and provide specific treatment for critically ill patients who are affected by the novel coronavirus in accordance with their cases, and make every effort to raise the cure rate and reduce the mortality rate, according to a spokesperson at a press conference held in Beijing on Saturday.