There may be global shortage of condoms if the lockdown in Malaysia due to the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to the world’s biggest condom producers.
Malaysia’s Karex Bhd (KARE.KL) was forced to shut down production after an announcement by government of total lockdown. The company makes one in every five condoms globally.
According to Reuters, the company has not produced a single condom from its three Malaysian factories for more than a week now and that’s already a shortfall of 100 million condoms, normally marketed internationally by brands such as Durex, supplied to state healthcare systems or distributed by aid programs such as the UN Population Fund.
Reports in Malaysia suggest that the company was given permission to restart production on Friday this week, but with only 50% of its workforce, under a special exemption for ‘critical industries.’
“It will take time to jumpstart factories and we will struggle to keep up with demand at half capacity,” Company Chief Executive Goh Miah Kiat said.
“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” he said. “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 Southeast Asia’s worst affected country, with 2,161 coronavirus infections and 26 deaths. The lockdown is projected to stay until at least April 14.
The other major condom-producing countries are also experiencing similar lockdowns; China, where the coronavirus originated and led to widespread factory shutdowns, India and Thailand, where infections are on the rise.
“The good thing is that the demand for condoms is still very strong because like it or not, it’s still an essential to have,” Goh said. “Given that at this point in time people are probably not planning to have children. It’s not the time, with so much uncertainty.”