I think the lesson that supply chains need to diversify has hit home this time. Let's hope people don't forget in five years.
Partly it's diversifying where things are obtained, and partly stockpiling of critical items. The "just in time" supply chain model is very efficient and therefore very alluring from the perspective of maximizing profit. For important and certainly for critical items there needs to be a supply cache, a buffer if you will, which is there for genuinely urgent situations like this one. That "emergency supply" must never be dipped into for profit or convenience reasons.
The problem is trying to maintain that politically, and by politically I include within companies. There is always someone willing to show the board how much money they can save - and increase profits - by reducing or eliminating such a cache with so-called little or no risk. And even when not formally approved it sometimes gets done surreptitiously to show increased profits and increase certain executives' compensation.
Hopefully it is BS, but now we have international politicking about deliberately denying critical supplies. That is also a consideration in diversifying supply chains.
Warehousing stockpiles does cost money and we should not expect private corporations to keep a stockpile for us without compensation. The usual route is for the Public organization (WHO or government Public Health in the case of epidemics) to purchase and maintain the stockpile and charge the people who will benefit from it through their taxes.
We should also note that many items are subject to deterioration in storage. For example, a rubber respirator might have the rubber dry out over the years and become brittle. During my time flying on C-130s we checked the expiry dates on first aid kit items. The bandages in sealed packets had no expiry date so we opened one pack which had probably been there for 15 years - the gauze bandage was dust, dried out by the air conditions at altitude and crumbled by the heavy vibrations from the C-130's turboprops. The whole fleet had to replace those bandages and mark the package with the date and five year expiry date.
Point is, managing a stockpile is not a "buy-and-forget-until-needed" proposition.
One possibility without direct subsidy is to mandate a stockpile for any company which deals in them so the stockpile cost gets built into the prices. Not meaning to include detail here, some oversight and penalties for non-compliance would be required of course.
I believe that private organizations like the Red Cross could maintain stockpiles and would get them out quicker than governments.
That said, in the US there is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that could have federal level stockiles, the states and local governments could also have more stockpiles. The supplies would have to be rotated so they don't expire but that is something to bring up to people who can do something about it. I am sure that other countries also have similar organizations for the same purpose.
Seek peace but keep your gun handy.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!
“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child