There are fears of an imminent global shortage of condoms after the world’s largest manufacturer was forced to stop production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since COVID-19 broke out in China, the zoonotic disease has infected more than 500,000 people with nearly 25,000 deaths recorded so far.
This has prompted strict measures towards containing the disease and preventing community spread, most of which resulted in widespread factory shutdowns coupled with stay-at-home directives.
Speaking on the impact of the lockdowns in Malaysia, which is to remain in place till April 14, Goh Miah Kiat, chief executive of Karex Bhd, expressed his fears about the imminent shortage.
“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” he said.
“My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programmes in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”
It is estimated that Karex Bhd makes one in every five condoms globally. But the company has not manufactured a single condom from its three factories in the past 10 days due to a lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the killer virus.
According to UK Guardian, this translates to a shortfall of 100 million condoms usually marketed globally by brands like Durex and supplied to aid programmes like the UN Population Fund.
While the company has been permitted to restart production as of Friday, only 50 percent of the company’s workforce were allowed to resume duties under a special exemption.
“It’ll take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity. The demand for condoms is still very strong because it’s still essential,” the CEO added.
“Given that, at this point in time, people are probably not planning to have children, it’s not the time with so much uncertainty.”