16.06.2021  |   Advisory Report

Protective masks: Procurement significantly exceeds demand

The supply of personal protective equipment acquired by the Federal Ministry of Health in 2020, when prices topped out, significantly exceeded actual demand.

In 2020 and 2021, the costs incurred by the Ministry for personal protective equipment and subsequent costs almost hit €7 billion. However, in particular, the number of protective masks actually acquired was much higher than the number urgently needed by hospitals and medical practices. The Ministry plausibly estimated the demand for particle-filtering half masks to exceed 75 million and the demand for nose and mouth masks to exceed 200 million. In addition, Germany-based production facilities were to be established.

On 1 July 2020, the bodies responsible were able to avert the risk of supply shortages in the health sector. Until then, 111 million particle-filtering half masks and 281 million nose and mouth masks had been delivered to consuming bodies. In comparison, the binding order was for more than 2.7 billion protective masks to be imported. The Ministry was not able to duly substantiate the amount ordered. Including the masks to be produced in Germany by year-end 2021, the bodies responsible procured more than 5.8 billion protective masks. This was due to multiple procurement channels and the fact that the Ministry failed to provide for a quantity control system. We pointed out that, to date, the excessive procurement had led to high inventories, numerous lawsuits and thus an elevated cost risk.

We communicated our findings to the parliamentary Budget Committee on 16 June 2021.