Shelves went empty during the pandemic. Now in recovery, grocery shopping remains a challenge in the U.S. as many of the essential items are difficult to find or out of stock. Photo credit: Mick Haupt of Unsplash

Pandemic era global shortages increase fears of rippling effects

3 mins read

International desperation sets in as hundreds of major industries are slaughtered. Will starvation or displacement continue, or worsen? Seemingly, it may. 

It is the pandemic within the pandemic—we are running out of everything. To add insult to injury, prices steadily rise as wages and laborers decrease. Among the ramifications are a grave scarcity of basic human necessities, which are manifesting themselves through civil unrest from Cuba to South Africa.

According to the World Economic Forum, COVID-19 has put us in a worse position than that of the 2008 global financial crisis. “Everybody’s been hurt,” said IHS Markit Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh. Indeed, the backlash is being felt globally across major industries like food and transportation, setting off deficiencies felt all over the world. 

For instance, German executives worry that the lack of supplies coupled with rising COVID-19 cases could slow economic recovery. Over in Sri Lanka, locals raided sugar stocks as food insecurity looms. A global chip shortage anticipated to dissipate by 2023 taunts France’s previously rebounding car sales while threatening the car industry in the good ole U.S of A

The McKinsey Global Institute corresponded with their sentiments adding that it will not only take time for conditions on the supply side to ease, but strong consumer product demands are likely here to stay

One thing is for sure, each industry is interdependent. This public health crisis has created a domino effect knocking enterprises out one out one by one. 


On one hand, the labor sparsity was the first straw to break the camel’s back. Layoffs and business closures immediately followed shutdown orders. In the U.S., more than 31 million applications for unemployment insurance were filed during March and April 2020. 

In an interesting turn of events, concerns about COVID-19 and the novel vaccines have brought many workers to a halt. Now, supply and labor squeezes  amid the still-spreading coronavirus continue to complicate economic recovery. 

First line workers including truckers who remained employed throughout the healthcare crisis fear burnout. The same is true of doctors and nurses worldwide, which only worsens virus management and eradication prospects as healthcare demands trump supplies.  

Indeed, CNN Business reports that suppliers are having trouble keeping up with consumer demands due to the difficulty of attracting workers.

Shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has caused significant delays in the deliveries of goods across the states. At California ports, millions of inventory from China sat in containers for weeks due to the lack of drivers to take them to manufacturing sites.

Food insecurity 

Subsequently, the chain reaction carried over into food insecurity. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition reports that more than 155 million people are suffering from hunger. They predict the trend will continue throughout the year.     

Naturally, restaurants and small food businesses are feeling the wrath as well. 

“Are there any other countries whose KFCs have run out of chicken and whose McDonald’s have run out of milkshakes?” asked Independent contributing writer Femi Oluwole. 

Indeed, getting a hold of chicken is extremely competitive right now. Coupled with the current national chicken wing drought in the U.S, CNN Business reports that major chains such as KFC and Wingstop are paying hefty prices for chicken. Additionally, chicken suppliers are experiencing short staff issues. 

Affected transportation industries

Workers fortunate enough to keep their jobs and looking to purchase a new car might have to hitch a ride. In point of fact, Toyota said it would cut global production by 40 percent next month, reducing output by about 140,000 cars and trucks.

Global chip scarcity has brought on this decrease in production, according to the SMMT Driving the Motor Industry. The Japan Times tweeted, “Manufacturers reeling from shortages of key components are also being forced into bidding wars to get space on cargo vessels.”

To add insult to injury, a lack of gas reserves also plagues drivers. As well, the various effects of natural disasters, a popular occurrence as the fall approaches the eastern seaboard in the U.S, are not alleviating the burden.

S&P Global tweeted, “Now Tropical Depression Henri is expected to create some minor gasoline shortages amid higher U.S. Atlantic Coast demand, low gasoline inventories and planned refinery work.”

On the bright side

Admittedly, effects have also rippled into a 37 percent increase in graphic card shipments. Windows Central reports that the increase superseded that of last year.  

Moreover, Concordia University students have devised a way to make surgical masks more efficient. Along with five of her fellow students and faculty, doctoral candidate Nathalie Duponsel developed a frame that can be placed over a surgical mask. 

“We wanted to test various designs that were out there to see what would be the most effective at creating an alternative to N95 respirators when there are shortages,” explained Duponsel.

The frame ensures that the typical gaps found in surgical masks, such as on the sides, are covered. 

“It forces the air to go through the surgical masks instead of around it,” said Duponsel. The instructions are free and can be found on Instructables.

. . . .

Despite the various approaches to virus containment, COVID-19 numbers are continuing to rise — further increasing the chances of intensified deficits. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are currently over 214 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. 

Ultimately, the pandemic shone a light on already-fractured industries. Seemingly, our collective success and survival is contingent on interrelation.

Journalist established in 2001, inspired by transformative leads.

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