The World Health Organization announced the possibility of a global shortage of syringes in 2022 for the COVID-19 vaccine in the 1 billion to 2 billion range.
The United Nations reports that a WHO senior adviser, Lisa Hedman, warns that many may find themselves missing routine vaccinations unless manufacturing picks up.
Hedman also said that over 6.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines are currently being administered globally per year. That number nearly doubles the amount of routine inoculations delivered annually.
Hedman says, “[Given] the global manufacturing capacity of around six billion a year for immunization syringes, it’s pretty clear that a deficit in 2022 of over a billion could happen if we continue with business as usual.”
To add another hurdle, syringes require 10 times more transportation space than a vaccine, which makes them susceptible to delays.
In October, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore released a statement highlighting the same concern, assuming an unhindered vaccine supply next year.
Fore said UNICEF secured nearly 3 billion auto-disable syringes since 2020 but added a shortfall of over 2 billion auto-disable syringes could occur as a result of attempting to meet new COVID-19 vaccination targets.
Fore stated the shortage would affect syringes that lock automatically to prevent reuse. This would harm “low- and middle-income countries, where this type of syringe is critical for safety.”
To avoid the shortage, Fore provided a list of six actions:
- Expand access to both syringe sizes for most COVID-19 vaccines and for routine immunization.
- Have a secure and predictable supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
- Make injection equipment shipments by international freight carriers a priority.
- Stop hoarding safe injection equipment.
- Phase local COVID-19 vaccination rollouts.
- Consider expanded use of reuse prevention syringes in line with the national policy of the recipient countries.