World faces shortage of syringes as COVID vaccine doses rise

Lokawaaz, October 28,2021:

African health officials and the United Nations are warning of a looming shortage of more than 2 billion syringes for mainly low- and middle-income countries around the world as the supply of COVID-19 doses rises, and routine vaccinations could be affected, too.

The U.N. children’s agency said the shortfall would affect up to 2.2 billion auto-disposable syringes that lock automatically to prevent them from being used again. “We are not anticipating a significant supply shortage of the more standard syringes used in high-income countries,” the agency said in a statement. It blamed “significantly higher demand,“ supply chain disruptions, national bans on syringe exports and an unpredictable supply of vaccines.

The threatened shortage comes as the flow of COVID-19 vaccine doses increases after months of delays to the African continent, the world’s least protected region with less than 6% of its population of 1.3 billion people fully vaccinated. Just five of Africa’s 54 countries are expected to reach the target of fully vaccinating 40% of their populations by year’s end.

The scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress,” the World Health Organization’s Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, told reporters on Thursday. Already, some African countries including South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda have seen delays in receiving syringes, the WHO said.

Routine childhood vaccinations “are going to be impacted,” said Sibusiso Hlatjwako of the health organization PATH, which forecasts that the problem could persist “way into 2022.” PATH looked at data from manufacturers and said more than 100 countries around the world use the auto-disposable syringes affected.

Overall, the modeling “shows a sizeable gap now,” he said.

The syringe shortage is already complicating COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Rwanda, which has been receiving COVID-19 vaccines with a “very short shelf life” of sometimes a month or two before expiration dates, Sabin Nsanzimana with the Rwanda Biomedical Center told reporters.

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