Coronavirus crisis shows pharmaceuticals have offshored supply chain, Navarro says

Companies were drawn to 'cheap labor environment,' 'unfair trade practices,' White House trade adviser says

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro advocated for bringing home more of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain amid the coronavirus crisis in China.

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"We've offshored far too much of our supply chain, not just for corona, but also for the essential medicines we need," Navarro said on "Sunday Morning Futures." "Same reasons we offshored a lot of our other stuff: it's a cheap labor environment, lax environment, and most of all, unfair trade practices."

"My part of the portfolio is to make sure our supply chains are secure and we have what we need," he said.  "On the supply chain issue, for the American people they need to understand that in crises like this we have no allies."

He downplayed the threat to the U.S. economy, however.

"The American economy is extremely strong and not particularly vulnerable to what happens in China."

In this Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, photo, a nurse prepares medicines for patients at Jinyintan Hospital designated for new coronavirus infected patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (Chinatopix via AP)

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Authorities are reporting 2,442 deaths among 76,936 cases in mainland China, mostly in the central province of Hubei.

Navarro said the Trump administration is focusing on ensuring the U.S. has access to protective gear like facemasks and supporting the race to develop treatment drugs and vaccines.

Biotech companies in Maryland, California and Texas say they're already well on their way in developing vaccines for the virus. But the process is still expected to take months or even years.

There are dozens of confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., and many of the patients were evacuated from Wuhan or the infected Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.