KEY POINTS

  • Malaysia’s Karex Berhad manufactures one in five condoms for international brands
  • Its three factories have been under a coronavirus lockdown for over a week
  • The factories are short of producing 100 million condoms

Pretty soon, there could be no more condoms at convenience stores, pharmacies and supermarkets globally as the world's biggest condom producer has not been operating for more than a week due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Karex Berhad was forced to shut down its three factories across Malaysia after its government ordered a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.

The company manufactures one in five condoms sold by international brands like Durex. It's also the chief supplier of many healthcare facilities, including the United Nations Population Fund.

Condoms and contraceptives are largely produced in manufacturing companies in Asia. China, where coronavirus originated, is also a major condom producer that enforced massive factory shutdowns during the outbreak in January. Its condom factories are not yet at full capacity as workers have been asked to reduce their hours.

India and Thailand are also top condom producers and their coronavirus infection rate is just beginning to spike.

Karex_Berhad Karex Berhad, based in Malaysia, is the world's largest condom manufacturer. Photo: Google Maps

According to Reuters, Malaysia’s Karex Berhad was granted permission to resume production on Friday, March 27. However, only half of its workers will be exempted from the lockdown.

The company's chief executive Goh Miah Kiat said that the workers will likely struggle to meet the demands with only 50 percent of its staff allowed at the factories.

“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” the chief executive said. “My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”

Goh said, however, that demand for condoms is still quite high as it is considered an essential, especially in this time of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has 2,161 COVID-19 positive cases as of Saturday, March 28, the highest in the Southeast Asian region. Its number of deaths is at 26 while 259 have recovered.

Its government will have the lockdown in effect until April 14.