The biggest vaccination campaign in history is under way. More than 535 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across 141 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 14.5 million doses a day.
In the U.S., more Americans have received at least one dose than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. To date, 143 million doses have been administered. In the last week, an average of 2.71 million doses a day were distributed, and at least 20 states have expanded vaccinations to all adults.
That’s all great news. But before you rip off your N95, toss your disposable gloves into the bin and dance in the streets, realize that the coronavirus is a long way from finished. In fact, those disposable gloves are going to remain in high demand for some time.
Even with the rapidly accelerating pace of vaccinations—and with hospitalizations and deaths dropping from their peak in January—infection levels are at about 55,000 new cases a day. More states are relaxing restrictions, in the process ignoring the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical officer. Add in the highly contagious variants making the rounds, and there are fears that a new surge may be on the way.
Glove demand will remain strong
As more stores, restaurants and other public places—including schools—increase their allowed capacity in coming weeks and months, the need for gloves will only expand, not diminish.
Retail environments changed drastically in the year since COVID first appeared. In spring 2020, retailers in some cases had to be pressured to allow workers to wear masks on the job, and debate over whether gloves helped prevent spreading COVID was common. Since then, not only have masks become largely required, but employees from shelf stockers to cashiers to maintenance staff have made disposable gloves an essential part of their routine.
An industry looking to bounce back
Restaurants, always sensitive to cross-contamination issues, had a difficult winter across the country. While some allowed limited indoor seating for customers, others were relegated only to carryout or delivery.
Now that restrictions on public gatherings are easing, expect hyper-vigilant attention to in-house cleanliness as more customers dine in—which means disposable gloves for the entire staff. It’s a great opportunity to sell vinyl gloves, especially to cash-strapped restaurants trying to get back on their feet.
The prospect of returning to a semblance of pre-COVID society is exciting. But before we dive back into the water too quickly, remember that the coronavirus is still here, and the need for gloves will remain.