WHO warns of likely alarming shortage of syringes in 2022

The World Health Organization has warned that there could be a shortage of up to two billion syringes in 2022, which threatens to slow vaccination efforts globally.


The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that there could be shortfall of up to two billion syringes in 2022, which threatens to hamper vaccination efforts globally if production does not improve. The shortages are said to be as a result of COVID-19 vaccine campaigns, where billions more syringes than normal are being used worldwide, severely denting global supplies.  

Lisa Hedman, the WHO’s senior advisor on access to medicines and health products, said as the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses increases, the supply of syringes will needs to keep pace.

“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.”

An AFP tally indicates that more than 7.25 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally. That’s nearly double the number of routine vaccinations given per year, and twice the number of syringes required.

Hedman said one serious result of a shortage could be delays in routine vaccinations, which could have a public health impact “for years to come” if a generation of the young misses out on normal childhood vaccinations. Shortages could also lead to the unsafe practice of reusing syringes and needles.

Hedman said any constraint on syringe supply could only be worsened by export restrictions and transportation problems, and urged countries to plan syringe needs well in advance to avoid hoarding and panic buying situations. She has also added that “efforts are being made to reduce that risk to zero in terms of the actual number that we could be short”.

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