Global condom shortage looms as coronavirus pandemic persists with UN warning of devastating consequences

Even as factory shutdowns and border closures throw the condom industry into chaos, demand appears to be increasing.

A global condom shortage is looming as the coronavirus pandemic shutters factories and disrupts supply chains, the world’s top maker of the contraceptives said, with the United Nations warning of “devastating” consequences.

Over half of humanity has been confined to their homes as the highly contagious virus marches round the planet, while governments worldwide have ordered the closure of businesses deemed non-essential.

Malaysia -- one of the world’s top rubber producers and a major source of condoms -- imposed a nationwide lockdown last month as infections surged to the highest level in Southeast Asia.

But restrictions on the operations of Malaysian contraceptive giant Karex, which makes one in every five condoms globally, mean the firm expects to produce 200 million fewer condoms than usual from mid-March to mid-April.

With other producers around the world likely facing disruption and difficulties in getting condoms to market due to transport problems, supplies of contraceptives will be hit hard, warned Karex chief executive, Goh Miah Kiat.

The world will definitely see a condom shortage, Goh told AFP. 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.
While we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also other serious issues that we need to look at, he said, adding he was particularly worried about supplies of condoms to developing countries.

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