A global condom shortage looms after deadly Coronavirus shut down the world’s top producer. Karex Bhd, based in Malaysia, was forced to stop production after lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the disease.
The company makes one in every five condoms in the world but it has not produced a single condom from its three factories for more than a week due to a lockdown imposed by the government to halt the spread of the virus.
This means a shortfall of 100 million condoms, which are usually marketed internationally by brands such as Durex. The condoms are also supplied to the NHS and the UN Population Fund.
According to Reuters, the company has been given permission to restart production on Friday – but with just half its workforce under a special exemption for critical industries. Chief Executive Goh Miah Kiat said: “It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity. “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 deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”
Malaysia is the worst affected country in Southeast Asia – with 2,161 coronavirus infections and 26 deaths. The lockdown is due to remain in place at least until April 14. The other major condom-producing countries are China, where the coronavirus originated and led to widespread factory shutdowns, and India and Thailand, which are seeing infections spiking only now.