Ever since the World Health Organization(WHO) declared the COVID-19 as a pandemic, the world has scrambled to, at least, keep the curve flat. As a result, countless businesses are put on halt temporarily. Aside from essential businesses that provide necessities to people, only a few factories and supply chains are allowed to operate. In the case of Malaysia — one of the world’s major source of condoms — the imposed nationwide lockdown last month has led to halting major businesses. Unfortunately, this includes Karex, a local contraceptive company. Three of its factories in Malaysia are closed until April 14, leading to less than 200 million fewer condoms produced from mid-March to mid-April.
Goh Miah Kiat, Chief Executive Officer of Karex, said “the world will definitely see a condom 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.”
“While we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also other serious issues that we need to look at.”
The United Nations’ sexual and reproductive health agency also fears the possible global condom shortage. It has worked with governments worldwide to support family planning, even citing that the poorest are the most vulnerable due to possible low stocks.
A UN spokesperson said that “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.”
Not only that, but the agency is also worried about unsafe abortions and increased risk of sexually transmitted infections. According to Karex’s CEO, the company has seen a growing demand for condoms worldwide. In India, it was reported that the sales jumped up to 35 percent after the country announced a lockdown.
However, it seems like China is ready to supply condoms globally. HBM Protections is back on regular operations and is ready to triple its number of manufacturing lines by the end of 2020. Shanghai Mingbang Rubber Products is also ramping up its condom exports in case a global shortage occurs.