Global Shortage Of Syringes As COVID-19 Vaccines Doses Rise With Need For Booster Shots
The United Nations and health officials from Africa, South America, India and elsewhere 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.
It was reported that by the United Nations children's agency that the shortfall would affect up to 2.2 billion auto-disposable syringes that lock automatically to prevent them from being used again.
The agency said in a statement, "We are not anticipating a significant supply shortage of the more standard syringes used in high-income countries."
The agency blamed "significantly higher demand," supply chain disruptions, national bans on syringe exports and an unpredictable supply of vaccines.
The acute global 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.
It was anticipated that 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 World Health Organization's Africa director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, told media last week, "The scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress in controlling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Who also said that already, some African countries including South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda have seen delays in receiving syringes.
Other 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.
He stressed, “Overall, the modeling shows a sizeable gap now.”
It was reported that 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 media.
He said, "You have to get these syringes in a short timeline, otherwise you have vaccines expiring in your hands."
Government officials and health experts said another complication is that the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, used widely across the world, requires a new and different syringe. There is no global stockpile for the new auto-disposable syringe, and the market for them is "tight and extremely competitive.”
WHO said that the African continent has few syringe manufacturers and none that make the Pfizer one.
Ironically, COVID-19 vaccine donations to African countries are now surpassing syringe availability, and countries in some cases are having to source syringes separately, WHO vaccination official Phionah Atuhebwe told reporters.
He said, "Without a plan, we should be in big trouble."
Health officials say the African continent is seeing a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases and deaths over the past month, but Moeti warned that another increase could come around the approaching holiday season.
To date the African continent has had more than 8.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including more than 218,000 deaths.
The syringe shortages are also being seen in countries in South America, parts of South East Asia and even India.
In some countries like Pakistan and Cambodia, prices of syringes have escalated drastically over the last few weeks.
Thailand Medical News
suggest that companies and individuals wanting to help with syringe issues to contact the WHO representative offices directly.