Oct. 29 (UPI) — The World Health Organization said Thursday that a shortage of syringes in Africa could hinder the fight against COVID-19 on the continent.
UNICEF Director Henrietta Fore said on Wednesday that a “serious shortage” of syringes could arise by the end of 2022.
Thursday, the WHO’s Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, said the shortage is causing a looming threat for vulnerable populations on the continent.
“Early next year, COVID-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress,” he said.
“Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it.”
The agency expects a shortage of about 2.2 billion auto-disposable syringes due to disruptions in supply chains and national bans on syringe exports.
The shortage applies to syringes that lock automatically to prevent reuse. Middle and low-income communities will be hardest hit by the shortage, Fore said, where just over 3% of residents are partly vaccinated.
There have been 8.4 million coronavirus cases in Africa and 217,000 related deaths.