It's not surprising that there's a commonly held belief that the coronavirus pandemic has meant a business boom for any companies dealing with medical. After all, with the rush to provide personal protective equipment and a wide variety of other goods needed by health care workers, on the surface it's a logical assumption.
But the situation isn't nearly that cut and dry. There have been some obvious areas where demand skyrocketed. Think protective gloves, made with latex, nitrile and other materials.
Elsewhere, though, the impact has been across the board.
Researchers with certain specialties will remain busy throughout this time. A professor at North Carolina State University gave a talk during the ACS Rubber Division's Virtual International Elastomer Conference about pathogen-hunting, self-disinfecting elastomers that can kill the virus.
At Smithers, it's been close to business as usual. It is expanding a medical device testing laboratory, but said that's not related to the pandemic, as demand for medical device and analytical testing always is high.
Still others serving medical saw business drop, and as you talk with them, it's clear why. If you think back, when worry about COVID-19 started to heat up in the U.S., people were warned to stay away from hospitals if at all possible.
I had to take my brother to the ER in early April for an ailment not related to coronavirus, and he was the only patient being seen. My youngest daughter is a nurse who works in the pediatric unit of an area hospital, and that system actually had to furlough pediatric nurses because children were being kept at home except for critical needs.
There also was a stop in elective surgeries, and other procedures were delayed for patients at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Rubber-related firms that service customers who supply goods used in such surgeries saw their demand flat line for several months. And with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spiking again, there already is talk that elective surgeries may need to be put on hold once again.
So as often is the case with assumptions, they don't always ring true.