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09-11-2021 | Edited News

UNOG Bi-Weekly Press Briefing: WHO - Risk of Syringe Shortage

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  1. Exterior wide shot, United Nations flags flying.
  2. Medium-wide shot, inside the press conference room (B-128), showing speakers and participants, a camera filming on the right.
  3. SOUNDBITE (English): Lisa Hedman, Senior Advisor for Access to Medicines and Health products at the World Health Organization (WHO): “A shortage of syringes is unfortunately a real possibility and here are some more number: with the global manufacturing capacity of around six billion per year for immunization syringes, it is pretty clear that a deficit in 2022 of over a billion could happen if we continue with ‘business as usual’”.
  4. Close shot, a participant seated and masked, taking notes.
  5. SOUNDBITE (English): Lisa Hedman, Senior Advisor for Access to Medicines and Health products at the World Health Organization (WHO): “There have already been more than 6.8 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines administrated globally. Now, to give you a comparison, this is nearly double the number of routine vaccinations that are given per year which, of course, means double the number of immunization syringes”.
  6. Medium shot, participants listening to the briefing, a technician supervising the briefing on Zoom.
  7. SOUNDBITE (English): Lisa Hedman, Senior Advisor for Access to Medicines and Health products at the World Health Organization (WHO): “Syringes are particularly impacted by transportation problems because they are large. A syringe takes up ten times more space in transportation than a dose of a vaccine”.
  8. Medium shot, speakers and participants taking part in the press conference, large-screen TV showing the Zoom broadcast in the back.
  9. SOUNDBITE (English): Lisa Hedman, Senior Advisor for Access to Medicines and Health products at the World Health Organization (WHO): “One serious result of a shortage could be delays in routine immunizations and other healthcare services and so here were talking about the injections that we give as part of normal health care. Now it could have a public health impact for years to come if we have a generation of children who don’t receive their childhood vaccinations”.
  10. Close shot of two speakers listening to the briefing.
  11. SOUNDBITE (English): Lisa Hedman, Senior Advisor for Access to Medicines and Health products at the World Health Organization (WHO): “If we are promoting equity in making vaccines available to the world and we are promoting equity to make vaccines available, then we have to do the same with the syringes”.
  12. Medium shot, participants and speakers seated and masked in the press conference room (B-128).
  13. Close shot, one of the speakers taking notes during the briefing.
  14. Close shot, a participant taking notes.
  15. Close shot, a journalist attending the press briefing, a large-screen TV with presenter

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a vaccine syringe shortage in 2022

As the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is improving, the supply of immunization syringes needs to keep pace warned the World Health Agency today. It raised concerns of a possible deficit of one to two billion immunization syringes in 2022 which would then lead to serious problems such as slowing down immunization efforts.  

Speaking at a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva, Lisa Hedman, Senior Advisor for Access to Medicines and Health products at the World Health Organization (WHO ) said that “a shortage of syringes is unfortunately a real possibility and here are some more number: with the global manufacturing capacity of around six billion per year for immunization syringes, it is pretty clear that a deficit in 2022 of over a billion could happen if we continue with ‘business as usual’”.

Due to the number of injections being given to respond to the pandemic, shortages of syringes for the full safety for patients and health care workers should be avoided.

“There have already been more than 6.8 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines administrated globally”, according to Ms. Hedman. “Now, to give you a comparison, this is nearly double the number of routine vaccinations that are given per year which, of course, means double the number of immunization syringes”.

Poorer countries that often place small orders and hence don’t have priority with manufactures, could be particularly affected. The WHO is calling on countries to plan ahead and order in large amounts to give manufacturers some lead time.

Syringes also require special logistics as “they are particularly impacted by transportation problems because they are large. A syringe takes up ten times more space in transportation than a dose of a vaccine”, stated WHO’s Ms. Hedman.

Syringes for vaccinations cannot be used for other purposes and they have a mechanism which ensures they are used only once. A potential risk of a lack of syringes might be the very unsafe practice of reusing syringes and needles, fears the WHO.

“One serious result of a shortage could be delays in routine immunizations and other healthcare services and so here were talking about the injections that we give as part of normal health care”, said Ms Hedman. “Now it could have a public health impact for years to come if we have a generation of children who don’t receive their childhood vaccinations”.

Syringes are manufactured on every continent with India and China being the largest exporting countries.  

With a looming syringe shortage, the global coordination efforts of the COVAX facility – a collaboration of governments, global health originations, manufactures, scientists, private sector and civil society aiming to provide equitable access to Covid-19 treatment and vaccines – will now ensure that syringes are available together with the vaccine.    

“If we are promoting equity in making vaccines available to the world and we are promoting equity to make vaccines available, then we have to do the same with the syringes,” said Ms. Hedman.

According to WHO estimates, 16 billion injections are given worldwide in a normal year.  Before the pandemic, vaccinations accounted for 5-10 per cent of that, or up to 1,6 billion. With the Covid-19 pandemic, an addition 6,8 billion doses now have been given worldwide.

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