As countries struggle to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, a global fight has emerged over dwindling medical supplies. The tensions have even led to growing competition for medical equipment between the United States and its traditional European allies.

By Stefan J. Bos

The local government in the German state and capital, Berlin, claims that 200,000 US-made protective masks bound for Germany never arrived. Authorities say the shipment was “confiscated” in Bangkok, Thailand.

The masks were ordered by Berlin’s police force to keep functioning amid the global coronavirus pandemic. But Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, said they were presumably diverted to the United States.

An American firm producing the masks, 3M, has been prohibited from exporting medical products to other nations under a Korean-War-era law invoked by U.S. President Donald Trump. But Berlin’s local government called the move “modern piracy.”

The dispute is the latest example in the growing…

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Topics #coronavirus #Europe #medicine & health #United States