The World Health Organization (WHO) reportedly warned that a massive shortage of syringes for COVID-19 vaccines could be on the horizon.
Reuters reported that WHO expert Lisa Hedman told a United Nations briefing that the potential shortage of 1 billion to 2 billion syringes could slow down routine immunizations and create issues with needle safety along with disrupting COVID-19 vaccinations in 2022.
According to Reuters, Hedman told the U.N. briefing that national health authorities should plan needs well in advance to avoid potential hoarding, panic buying and other similar scenarios that unfolded early in the pandemic with a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Hedman stressed that routine vaccinations for children specifically could bear the brunt of the potential shortage. At the same time, other health services could be affected, and the unsafe reuse of syringes in needles, particularly in poorer countries, may be encouraged as a result.
She noted that the approximately 6.8 billion COVID-19 vaccinations administered worldwide almost double the total of routine vaccines and shine a light on the total manufacturing capacity of about 6 billion immunization syringes per year. According to Reuters, Hedman said factories must shift to producing the proper devices for shots. Otherwise, the shortage next year could reach up to two billion syringes.
Forbes reported that UNICEF is aware of the potential shortages that it said would be due to high demand, international freight and supply chain disruptions, an unpredictable vaccine supply and national bans on syringe exports.
UNICEF reportedly calls for expanded access to supply that requires increased production by manufacturers and a more secure and predictable vaccine supply so that the limited total of syringes can be in the right place at the right time. The organization also proposed that injection equipment shipments by international freighters be prioritized in a manner similar to vaccine shipments and called for an end to “syringe nationalism” and the hoarding of injection equipment.