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Is a Worldwide Condom Shortage Next?


The world's largest condom maker previously shut down production and is now operating at half capacity.

Health advocates are concerned the world could face an acute condom shortage, on top of a global pandemic.

Malaysian company Karex, which bills itself as the world's largest condom maker and produces one-fifth of the world's condoms, recently shut down production for a week as the country battles COVID-19, The Guardian reports. Malaysian officials, overseeing one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in southeast Asia, allowed Karex to operate on Friday, but with only half their staff.

Karex's problems are already being felt, with nations around the globe facing a shortfall of about 100 million condoms. Well-known condom companies like Durex are trying to manage the reduced output, which affects more than consumers. Companies like Durex provide condoms to government health programs in nations like Britain, and organizations like the United Nations. 

“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” Karex's chief executive, Goh Miah Kiat, told The Guardian. “My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programmes … in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”

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Neal Broverman