Shreyas Kulkarni

Unexpected brands that are making Coronavirus medical supplies

As the demand for Coronavirus medical supplies goes up, help has started to pour in from the most unexpected of places.

Albus Dumbledore, the eccentric and brilliant headmaster of Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter series, said, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

While Dumbledore was a fictional character, his words appear to hold true in today's world. A world that’s facing its biggest health crisis in a century and, perhaps, ever.

COVID-19 is a pandemic. Over 19,000 people have lost their lives to the virus, for which there is no vaccine yet.

While people are taking all necessary precautions, the health workers are regularly putting their lives at risk as they treat people suffering from Coronavirus. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of masks, gloves, and ventilators globally.

Keeping this shortage in mind, help has started to pour in, but it’s not from the place you’d expect.

Unexpected brands that are making Coronavirus medical supplies

A TechCrunch report on March 24, 2020 says that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will start manufacturing face masks and, in the coming weeks, donate critical medical equipment to first responders and healthcare workers.

The automobile maker is installing the production capacity at one its factories in China, and plans to make one million masks a month. The distribution will be solely focused on the US, Canada and Mexico.

Mike Manley, CEO, FCA, was quoted as saying, “In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks. We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic.”

Unexpected brands that are making Coronavirus medical supplies

Diageo India, the liquor company that’s behind brands like McDowell's No 1 whisky and Smirnoff Vodka, in a press release, said that it will produce 300,000 litres of bulk hand sanitisers to help combat Coronavirus.

In addition, it is supporting the hospitality sector with a Rs 30 million healthcare insurance to bartenders, and is donating approximately 1.50 lakh masks to the public health departments of five states.

Anand Kripalu, MD and CEO, Diageo India, says, “We stand united with the government and citizens of our country in the fight against Coronavirus. The demand for sanitisers is increasing by the hour, and we would like to use our manufacturing units to join in the effort to fill the demand-supply gap for sanitisers, so critical at this hour. Healthcare providers are at the forefront of this fight, and donating masks is a token of our appreciation for their selfless dedication to fighting the epidemic." He added, "We also want to support our partners in the hospitality industry, especially the bartenders, who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the closure of restaurants and bars.”

If automobile makers and liquor companies making supplies to combat Coronavirus seems odd, wait till you hear about fashion houses.

Unexpected brands that are making Coronavirus medical supplies

According to a BBC report on March 16, Louis Vuitton intends to tackle the shortage of antiviral products across France. "LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands... to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels..."

A report by The Guardian on March 24 said that Prada would produce 110,000 masks by April 6. Also, Gucci has said that it will make more than one million masks, and Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga – both of which, like Gucci, are owned by Kering – will also begin manufacturing them.