Orson Wells, Dr. Hong and the Corona Crisis

No matter which colleague you talk to, in which country you live or in which medical environment you work in we currently all have the same problem:

Harry lime Third man

Orson Wells as Harry Lime in the movie “The Third Man”

We have a shortage of masks, specifically FFP II+III/N95. Then again walking through the supermarket I see people wearing such masks and even protective visor helmets.

How can it be that health care professionals as those exposed most are left unprotected while others are not?

The footsteps of Harry Lime

In a way I am reminded of the movie 1949 movie “the third man” from Orson Wells which is set in post II world war in Vienna - at a time when surreptitious trade was a major strategy to survive. All sorts of goods (in the third man it was penicillin) were traded trough dubious channels. I was recently approached by several people who promised me:

“I can get you any protective equipment you want”.

I was even offered 10.000 FFP III masks and PPE overalls - needless to say for an enormous price.

Mask Money

Clearly some are trying to make money in the crisis. As always the root of evil is greed. Countries outsourced the production of masks and PPE to low wage countries to increase their profit margin. These countries are now not able to produce masks in the quantities needed.

Getting Help from China

But not all act this way. Here is a counter-example: In February I received a package from Dr. Hong a Chinese postdoc who worked at our department. Rarely have I seen such a hardworking, disciplined and wonderful colleague and together with Matthias Schneider from our department we became close friends.

I was honestly moved when I opened the package. Included was an assortment of Chinese teas and several FFP III masks.

Having gone through the crisis in China she anticipated what would happen in Vienna and did not forget us.

Thank you Hong!

Hong Matthias Georg and me

Hong with Matthias Schneider, Georg Spinka and Thomas Binder


Thomas Binder and the 123sonography team