COVID-19 pandemic may lead to global condom shortage, world's largest producer says

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Posted at 2:13 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 14:46:16-04

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The world’s largest producer of condoms says the coronavirus pandemic may lead to a global shortage of the rubber contraceptives.

The head of Karex Bhd told Reuters that the Malaysian company hasn’t produced a single condom from its three factories for over a week due to a lockdown meant to slow the spread of the virus. In that timeframe, the company says it could have made about 100 million condoms, which are marketed under varying names, like Durex.

Karex Bhd’s CEO, Goh Miah Kiat, told Reuters that he’s concerned that shortage could last for months in the places like Africa, where condoms are distributed by aid programs, such as the UN Population Fund.

Kiat said his company has been given permission to restart production on Friday, but the workforce must be reduced to 50%, a restriction that some American states are also putting in place at U.S. businesses.

With only half of its employees, Kiat says it will take time to jumpstart Karex Bhd’s factories and they’ll struggle to keep up with demand.

Malaysia is one of the hardest hit countries in southeast Asia. As of Friday afternoon, more than 2,100 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed there, with 26 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.