WHO Warns of Potential Vaccine Syringe Shortage Next Year

The shortage could be in the 1 billion to 2 billion range.

The World Health Organization announced the possibility of a global shortage of syringes in 2022 for the COVID-19 vaccine in the 1 billion to 2 billion range.

UN News reported a WHO senior adviser, Lisa Hedman, warned many may find themselves missing routine vaccinations unless manufacturing picks up.

Hedman also said over 6.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines are currently administered globally per year. That number nearly doubles the routine amount of inoculations annually delivered.

Hedman says, “[Given] the global manufacturing capacity of around six billion a year for immunization syringes, it’s pretty clear that a deficit in 2022 of over a billion could happen if we continue with business as usual.”

To add another hurdle, syringes require 10 times more transportation space than a vaccine, which makes them susceptible to delays.

In October, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore released a statement and highlighted the same concern assuming an unhindered vaccine supply next year.

Fore said UNICEF secured nearly 3 billion auto-disable syringes since 2020 but added a shortfall of over 2 billion auto-disable syringes could occur as a result of attempting to meet new COVID-19 vaccination targets. 

Fore stated the shortage would affect syringes that lock automatically to prevent reuse. This would harm “low and middle-income countries, where this type of syringe is critical for safety.”

To avoid the shortage, Fore provided a list of six actions:

  • Expand access to both syringe sizes for most COVID-19 vaccines and for routine immunization.
  • Have a secure and predictable supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Make injection equipment shipments by international freight carriers a priority.
  • Stop hoarding safe injection equipment.
  • Phase local COVID-19 vaccination rollouts.
  • Consider expanded use of reuse prevention syringes in line with the national policy of the recipient countries.


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