Story at a glance

  • A global syringe shortage could hinder Africa’s fight against COVID-19, slowing the continent’s ability to administer vaccines.
  • UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement published Wednesday that the agency expects to come up short by 2.2 billion auto-disable syringes.
  • “Low- and middle-income countries – where this type of syringe is critical for safety – will bear the brunt of this shortage.”

A global syringe shortage could hinder Africa’s fight against COVID-19, slowing the continent’s ability to administer vaccines.  

“The looming threat of a vaccine commodities crisis hangs over the continent,” Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa, said Thursday

“Early next year, COVID-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress. Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it.”


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UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement published Wednesday that the agency expects to come up short by 2.2 billion auto-disable syringes as a result of “the significantly higher demand, disruptions to international freight and supply chains, an unpredictable supply of vaccines due to a significant reliance on much needed donated doses, and national bans on syringe exports.”

“This shortage would only hit the type of syringes that lock automatically to prevent reuse, as required by WHO and UNICEF guidelines,” Fore added. “Low- and middle-income countries – where this type of syringe is critical for safety – will bear the brunt of this shortage.” 

Approximately 49 percent of the global population is partially vaccinated, data shows. But only 3.1 percent of residents in low and middle income countries have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. 

The Washington Post reported around 82 countries are in danger of missing a goal to vaccinate 40 percent of their populations by the end of the year. Only Seychelles, Mauritius and Morocco have reached the mark. 

Data from Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows there have been nearly 8.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Around 8.5 percent of the continent has received one vaccine dose while about 5.6 percent is fully vaccinated. 


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Published on Oct 28, 2021