As the COVID-19 pandemic is shutting factories down and disrupting the supply chain by putting a majority of the world in lockdown mode, it is anticipated that in the coming days we are going to face a shortage of a lot of things which is part of our daily requirements. And as per reports, the world is about to face a global condom shortage.
The world's largest producer of condoms Malaysia’s Karex Bhd was forced to shut down production in its three of its factories in Malaysia over a week after the country decided to impose a lockdown to arrest the spread of the deadly infection of the novel coronavirus. Malaysia is one of the world's top rubber producers and a major source of condoms. And Karex reportedly makes one in every five condoms globally. This implies that the firm expects to produce 200 million fewer condoms than usual from mid-March to mid-April. The company supplies condoms to many companies as well as governments for distribution through aid programmes.
As of Wednesday morning Malaysia has reported 3,963 positive cases of COVID-19 and 63 related deaths.
Karex reportedly makes one in every five condoms globally. This implies that the firm expects to produce 200 million fewer condoms than usual from mid-March to mid-April.
Karex chief executive Goh Miah Kiat has warned that other contraceptive manufacturers facing disruption in distribution and getting condoms to the market there can be a serious shortage. "It's challenging, but we are trying our best right now to do whatever we can. It is definitely a major concern - condom is an essential medical device," Goh said.
Goh is particularly concerned about the supply being affected in the developing nations. "While we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also other serious issues that we need to look at," he said.
He had earlier said to Reuters, "My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months."
The company has been allowed to resume operations but with only 50 percent of its usual workforce.
"My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months."
"Border closings and other restrictive measures are affecting transportation and production in a number of countries and regions," said a UN Population Fund spokesperson. The UN health agency has also raised concern that it can currently only get about 50-60 percent of its usual condom supplies due to COVID-19 related disruptions.
"A shortage of condoms, or any contraceptive, could lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies, with potentially devastating health and social consequences for adolescent girls, women and their partners and families," the spokesperson added.
The agency fears that there could also be a rise in unsafe abortions and an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, due to the shortage.
The demand for condoms has been higher during the lockdown. Even late last month several Indian media companies reported that the condom sales in the country are going through the roof. Many retailers have seen sales surge of nearly 25 percent to 50 percent in the last one week, the Hindustan Times reported. However, the only positive news is from China where now major producers have resumed operations.
Picture Credit: livemint