How much protective equipment does Canada really need for COVID-19?

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A high-profile announcement by the Liberals this week that automotive giant General Motors would make 10 million medical masks omitted a detail that speaks to the long road ahead in Canada’s fight against COVID-19.

Those masks will be made over the next year.

So too will much of the millions of gloves, gowns, and litres of hand sanitizer that are part of the federal government’s bulk buy of crucial personal protective gear needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Though goods are being handed out as soon as they do arrive in Canada — 42 plane loads to date, the government said this week — the reality is many of the orders being placed won’t meet the demand created by the current outbreak of COVID-19.

But the bigger issue is the next one.

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“The analysis is that there is an unpredictability about the way in which the virus may spread in the coming months,” said federal procurement minister Anita Anand in an interview with The Canadian Press this week.

“As a result our approach has been to order supplies over and above the requests of the provinces and territories so that if there is a second wave and we do need ventilators,

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