Corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak - FAQ
Published on 2020-03-19 20:40:18COVID-19

Corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak - FAQ


(last updated 27/5/2020)
As the new coronavirus spreads globally and impacts our everyday (working and private) lives, IDA Foundation remains dedicated to fulfilling its mission of bridging the gap in access to medicines. Our teams in Amsterdam, Mumbai and around the world, are working together to ensure we can continue to support our customers in this time of uncertainty. 

With an increasing number of countries applying a lock down or export restrictions as a consequence of the virus, as well as businesses in affected countries forced to (temporarily) close their operations, we are working closely with our customers to plan ahead.

We have compiled a FAQ (frequently asked questions) regarding the coronavirus, focusing on its impact on our product availability and supply chain. We will aim to keep this FAQ up to date as developments arise, but we advise to contact your IDA contact for the latest information regarding your specific orders.

For Global Fund Principal Recipients, please also see this COVID-19 Procurement and Supply Update for Principal Recipients.

In these times, please know that IDA Foundation is doing everything we can to ensure delivery of these essential health goods.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs- last updated 27/5):

Q: Has the corona outbreak affected IDA's offices and warehouses?

  • All IDA offices remain fully operational, with our teams in the Netherlands and Mumbai working from home until June-July at least. Our warehouses are fully operational in Tilburg (NL) and Dubai (UAE)
  • The lockdown in India has been extended until May 31, with significantly eased restrictions in regions with few cases of COVID-19 (the country has been divided into red, orange, green and containment zones). The government is leaving it for states to demarcate these areas based on guidelines issues by the health ministry
  • The Dutch government has also confirmed further relaxation of measures starting June 1, having observed that the initial relaxation of measures has not had a negative impact on the number of cases. This is the second step in a multi-step plan for the country to gradually re-open
  • The situation in China remains stable, but with many restrictive measures in place

Q: Are you still able to deliver products, including COVID-19 products?

Yes, we are still able to deliver products, and we are also delivering various COVID-19 related products. However, due to increasing global demands for all COVID-19 related products, availability is low. IDA has stayed focused on sourcing COVID-19 supplies, mainly PPE products, by engaging manufacturers, securing prices and lead times. So far we have approved 28 different PPE products from eleven suppliers, and eight more products are being currently assessed, each well documented in IDA's Quality Management System.


With our focus on PPE items, we have been working hard to accelerate the progress regarding availability of PPE items from stock in Dubai, currently the best global hun for humanitarian relief. We are happy to share a list of items that will be available from stock in our Dubai warehouse with you, including gloves, masks, coveralls and respirators among other items. For (PPE) shipments from the Netherlands, we are no longer required to request export licenses for PPE items produced outside the EU and gloves (regardless of origin). For all the other PPE items coming from the EU, export licences are still required. (Please note that stock from our Dutch warehouse is currently limited).


Our QA team is closely monitoring the development of diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and compiling an overview of the numerous tests that are under rapid development in both the EU and in Asia. As there are many different diagnostic tests in development, an IDA QA policy and recommendations for COVID-19 testing will be shared in the coming week(s).

Regarding medical equipment, IDA is currently not supplying ventilators.


Several treatment options are being studied, e.g. in the Solidarity Trial. We are following these studies, and would like to recommend following EMA and WHO statements that no medicines have been proven to be effective and safe to use for COVID-19 - and it is very important that patients and healthcare professionals only use medicines for their authorised uses or as part of clinical trials of national emergency use programmes for the treatment of COVID-19. For those interested in scientific publications related to COVID-19, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is keeping an overview here.

For a full overview of our current stock, please contact your IDA representative.

Q: How is the coronavirus outbreak affecting the global supply chain?

Aside from country restrictions and lockdowns, the outbreak has also impacted space and container availability throughout the world and this has been heavily impacting the global supply chain. For more detail on restrictions per region / country, please see the detailed yet concise overview of current country restrictions (as provided by the World Food Programme), see here.

Global air freight capacity is 35% lower compared to this time last year, but we are seeing an increase in air capacity on a weekly basis. Transpacific capacity has grown largely because of PPE shipments carried on passenger freighters. Overall however, options are still limited and air freight prices remain high.

For sea freight, the number of blank sailings to mitigate the pandemic impact is stabilising and worked into the carrier schedule.

In close collaboration with our awarded freight forwarders, we are actively looking for transport solutions in these challenging circumstances. With the biggest challenge on air freight options, we focus most of our attention there for the time being. For now, we are working on charter solutions to a number of destinations, e.g. charter flights from Myanmar to Europe (Amsterdam), China (Shanghai), India (Mumbai), Latin America and additional options have been added to various destinations in West Africa.

With the intensification of the global COVID-19 outbreak, suppliers, freight forwarders and IDA Foundation have recognized we are in a Force Majeure situation. Please see IDA's Sales Terms and Conditions (16: Force Majeure) which are applicable.


Business is reportedly operating in a 'new normal', with several measures remaining in place to avoid a recurrence of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Chinese government's additional export control announced on April 10 (Circular No. 53 CIQ) for the export of PPE/medical equipment out of China, is delaying the process with an additional 5 to 7 working days. Overall, the situation is expected to remain unstable for Q2.

Airfreight to/from China

  • Airports are reported to be operating normally, but there are still a significant number of flight cancellations (both import and export)
  • Fueled by a rapid increase in demand for PPE products, freighter capacity from China has grown rapidly and is almost at the level of 2019
  • As demand is still greater than the available capacity, air freight rates continue to increase
  • There is still some congestion at Chinese airport hubs (mainly Shanghai Pudong and Chonqing Jiangbei airports), affecting cargo moving out of China, but this is gradually improving

    Sea freight to/from China

    • Ports are still experiencing backlog in operations with container yards fully occupied with containers
    • Carriers have removed capacity to all destinations, including Europe, India, Middle East and Africa
    • Additional blank sailings have been announced by several carriers for the coming period as they do not see a sudden increase in demand; volumes will remain under pressure in May
    • Several carriers have implemented additional surcharges on their current rate


    The current government restrictions in India are having a large impact on all transport of goods: cargo flights are affected and sea freight capacity is heavily constrained. Interstate transport for manufacturing activities have started again, however adequate availability of trucks is still a problem due to non-availability of manpower. Most operations and ports are also impacted by the lack of workforce mobility (and workforce having returned to home towns), with no public transport being available in certain areas. With passenger trains very slowly starting up again, it remains to be seen how this will evolve in the coming weeks. The central government allows movement of all the goods across all the states contingent to states' implementing this notification, this however is depending on the local operators and excluding hot or red spots for COVID-19 quarantined areas.

    Airfreight to/from India

    • Air Freight from India is significantly constrained; there are limited domestic flights available and international flights are all still halted, this has significant impact on airport operations and a high number of freighter cancellations because of restrictions on manpower
    • Several freighter options (ghost flights) are scheduled for this month departing from various Indian airports to key hubs (e.g. Dubai)

    Sea freight to/from India

    • While some ports are operating relatively normally, many ports are still affected by a lack of manpower and operating minimally or at reduced capacity
    • In the current situation where there is little movement, there is also a shortage of containers


    Most European countries are seeing stabilisation of COVID-19 figures and are slowly lifting measures and re-opening businesses at varying speed.

    Airfreight to/from Europe

    • Many airlines have had to cancel all passenger flights to/from a number of countries (US, China, South Korea, etc.)
    • Freighters are being utilized to fill the gap in capacity, although we expect these to be mostly used to main economic centres (US/China)
    • A few airlines have announced they will slowly be starting up again

    Sea freight to/from Europe

    • All ports are functional but operating at 60%-80% due to reduced work force
    • Carriers have announced further blank sailings
    • Capacity continues to be tight throughout May
    • Most of the shipping lines are adding surcharges such as Peak Season Surcharge, and space and equipment remain limited


    Most countries in Africa implemented a (partial) lockdown in the last month, with many airports and ports being closed or minimally operational. As of mid-April, all countries on the continent have restrictions in place, varying from social distancing measures and curfews to closed borders and (air)ports.

    Air freight

    • Scheduled capacity to Africa is extremely limited (only freighters still flying)
    • Non-scheduled (charter) capacity is available, but usually announced last minute (six working days' notice on average, so we need to be able to act fast)
    • First available charter flights to (West) Africa would be departing in week 19 with destinations Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Ghana

    Sea freight

    • Roughly half of the African countries have ports that are fully operational. Most of the other ports are operational having strict measures in place or operate with limited capacity. Although equipment and space are available, this may be affected by expected blank sailings
    • Ongoing congestion is reported in various ports, resulting in delays 
    • Road transport options vary a lot, because of border restrictions per (neighbouring) country

    Q: How is the pandemic affecting manufacturers?


    Our Chinese manufacturers and suppliers are all working as the situation in the country has stabilised. Our focus remains on sourcing PPE and other COVID-19 related items from approved suppliers and ensuring these are all aligned with the recently updated Chinese quality/export guidelines and restrictions related to PPE items. Where needed we have (newly) approved additional PPE products in our portfolio.


    • Overall lead times for pharmaceuticals are on average 60-75 days
    • While some API shortages still apply, in most cases we have been able to find alternative suppliers

    Medical Supplies
    Average lead times for most medical supplies are around 45 days, with a few items (e.g. surgical gloves, foley catheter) with longer lead times. For most PPE items, except for gloves, we can offer shorter lead times, depending on the quantities requested and of course depending on other restrictions in the supply chain. The supply of face masks is slightly getting more stable.


    Production and supply of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies are still affected by the lockdown and restrictive measures put in place by the government. From our contact with suppliers, almost all IDA manufacturers indicate they have resumed operations, currently averaging at 65-70% of their capacity. Per June 1 India will be further lifting measures for many businesses (especially in less impacted areas) which may further increase capacity and operations. One of the biggest limitations currenlty experienced by our pharmaceutical suppliers is the non-availability of packing materials and non-availability of trucks for movement of raw materials and finished goods to and from the factories due to lack of manpower. However, there are slight improvements on the availability of packing materials (e.g. shipper cartons) as paper mills are starting to operate again. It may take a few weeks to see the improvements.


    • The Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has currently only put a pharmaceutical restriction in place for paracetamol
    • Despite the government relaxations of restrictions in many regions, manufacturers are indicating that they are still dealing with workforce shortages as workers have also returned to their families outside of the cities and there are no inter-state passenger trains running yet

    Medical Supplies

    • As with pharma, most suppliers are working with limited capacity due to workforce shortages
    • Export restrictions are still in place for certain hand disinfectant/sanitizers                                

    Other questions? Please contact your assigned IDA contact: