The world’s largest producer of condoms has said that there could be a global shortage in the coming months after its factories closed due to a government lockdown. While closing down nonessential businesses has been an important part of the battle to contain the spread of illness and “flatten the curve,” this is certainly a worrying development.
- Karex Bhd in Malaysia makes 20% of the world’s condoms. According to The Guardian, it’s been more than a week since the company has made a single condom in any of its three factories in the country. That may not seem like very long for production to be halted, but that adds up to a whole lot of condoms.
- So far, that’s a shortage of 100 million condoms. Karex Bhd’s prophylactics are distributed around the world to companies like Durex and supplied to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) and the UN Population Fund, among other places. That means over this past week, many of these businesses may have had to go without.
- Production started up again on Friday but at a reduced rate. For safety reasons, Karez Bhd is operating at roughly 50% of its usual capacity, meaning it will be producing far fewer condoms, which could contribute to the shortage. “It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity,” said chief executive Goh Miah Kiat.
- A global condom shortage could be catastrophic for some countries. As Kiat explained, it’s humanitarian programs in third-world countries that are most desperately in need of condoms and could run into trouble without them. “We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary. My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs… in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months,” he said.
- Hopefully things will be able to get back to normal in the coming months. While there’s no telling how long this health crisis will last, it’s important for people to also continue practicing safe sex as much as possible, so hopefully people can still get a hold of condoms when they need them.