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World Faces 'Scary' Condom Shortage

One of the top manufacturers shut down due to the coronavirus
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2020 3:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – With millions homebound during the pandemic, we don't exactly need a condom shortage—and yet it's a real risk, the Guardian reports. That's because Malaysia-based Karex Bhd, the world's biggest condom maker, had to shut its three factories for a week due to a government-imposed lockdown. The shortfall comes to 100 million condoms in brands including Durex, which supplies government healthcare systems and aid programs. "We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary," says Karex CEO Goh Miah Kiat. "My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs … in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months."

What's more, Goh tells Bloomberg that demand is rising at "double digits" amid government stay-inside orders—just as people are trying to refrain from having kids in the face of a hazardous future. Luckily the factories reopened Friday, albeit at half-production, which means some condom prices could rise. "We are still paying all our workers full salaries but workers only come in half the time so generally there will be a cost increase," he says. Karex makes about 20% of the world's condoms while the rest come from India and China, two nations hard-hit by the pandemic. Malaysia is taking the brunt in Southeast Asia, with 2,161 infections and 26 deaths. (Read more condoms stories.)

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