By Faith Nyasuguta
The World Health Organisation has indicated there could be a deficit of upto two billion syringes in 2022, which could thwart global vaccine efforts if production does not improve.
The shortages have been occasioned by intense Covid-19 vaccine campaigns, as billions of more syringes than normal are being used worldwide, badly denting global supplies.
According to Lisa Hedman, the WHO’s senior advisor on access to medicines and health products, the supply of syringes needs to keep pace with the rising supply of Covid-19 vaccine doses.
“We are raising the real concern that we could have a shortage of immunisation syringes, which would, in turn, lead to serious problems, such as slowing down immunisation efforts,” she told reporters.
“Depending on how the vaccine uptake goes, it could be a deficit of anywhere from one billion to two billion.”
Worldwide, over 7.25 billion Covid-19 jabs have been administered, according to an AFP tally.
The World Health Organization confirmed that the quantity is nearly double the number of routine vaccinations given annually- and twice the number of syringes required.
Hedman noted that one serious result of a deficit could be delays in routine vaccinations, which in return will have a public health impact “for years to come” if a generation of youngsters miss out on normal childhood vaccinations.
Shortages could also trigger the unsafe practice of reusage of syringes and needles.
She added that any constraint on syringe supply could only be worsened by export restrictions and transportation problems.
Hedman thus called on countries to plan syringe needs well in advance to avert hoarding and panic buying situations.
She said “efforts are being made to reduce that risk to zero in terms of the actual number that we could be short”.