Trump slaps tariffs on China, and China retaliates.
One of the classes of item that the Trumpies have been thinking of putting tariffs on is medical supplies.
So far, none of those medical products have landed on the final tariff lists. But lower-level trade negotiations with China concluded on Thursday with few signs of progress, increasing the likelihood of additional tariffs.
The United States relies on China not only for H7N9 influenza samples but for medical supplies, such as plastic drip mechanisms for intravenous saline, as well as ingredients for certain oncology and anesthesia drugs. Some of these are delivered through a just-in-time production model; there are no stockpiles, which could prove dangerous if the supply was disrupted, health officials said.
Can you say cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face? Yes, you can.
The most concerning of that very concerning list is the H7N9 influenza samples. China is where people and animals trade influenza viruses most frequently, and increasing cases of H7N9 influenza have been reported. It is not very transmissible at this point, but influenza viruses mutate rapidly, and exchange between people and animals facilitates that mutation. So it’s important for multiple laboratories to be looking at as many H7N9 samples as possible.
China has been sticky about providing samples in the past, and this round of non-sharing precedes Trump’s easy-to-win trade war. But the trade war is making it worse.