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WHO says syringe shortage could hinder COVID-19 fight in Africa

WHO says syringe shortage could hinder COVID-19 fight in Africa
One U.N. expert said Thursday that "countless" lives in Africa depend on a major increase in syringe production. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization said Thursday that a shortage of syringes in Africa could hinder the fight against COVID-19 on the continent.

UNICEF Director Henrietta Fore said on Wednesday that a "serious shortage" of syringes could arise by the end of 2022.

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Thursday, the WHO's Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, said the shortage is causing a looming threat for vulnerable populations on the continent.

"Early next year, COVID-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress," he said.

"Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it."

The agency expects a shortage of about 2.2 billion auto-disposable syringes due to disruptions in supply chains and national bans on syringe exports.

The shortage applies to syringes that lock automatically to prevent reuse. Middle and low-income communities will be hardest hit by the shortage, Fore said, where just over 3% of residents are partly vaccinated.

There have been 8.4 million coronavirus cases in Africa and 217,000 related deaths.

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