Global Condom Shortage Expected As World’s Biggest Producer Halts Production

by : Emily Brown on : 27 Mar 2020 16:57
Global Condom Shortage Expected As World's Biggest Producer Halts ProductionGlobal Condom Shortage Expected As World's Biggest Producer Halts ProductionPA Images/Pexels

Couples might soon have to give up on their favourite isolation pastime as the world’s biggest condom producer has halted production. 


We’ve all seen the tweets joking that there’ll be a lot of babies arriving in nine months time, thanks to most of the world being urged to stay indoors as much as possible right now.

For many of those enjoying that particular form of daily exercise, babies, or sexually transmitted diseases, won’t be the goal. But with Karex Bhd forced to shut down, those same people might have to start looking into alternative hobbies.

Couple in bedCouple in bedEmily Brown

Malaysia’s Karex Bhd makes one in every five condoms globally, but for the last 10 days its three Malaysian factories have not produced a single one, due to a lockdown imposed by the government to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.


As a result, there’s 100 million fewer condoms out there to be marketed internationally and supplied to state healthcare systems or distributed by aid programmes.

Goh Miah Kiat, Karex Chief Executive, spoke to Reuters about the worrying affects of the shutdown, saying:

We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary.

My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programmes deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.


Karex is in the process of appealing to the government for an exemption to operate under specific conditions, as Malaysian officials have approved other essential goods producers to operate with half of their workforce.

Goh continued:

The good thing is that the demand for condoms is still very strong because like it or not, it’s still an essential to have.

Given that at this point in time people are probably not planning to have children. It’s not the time, with so much uncertainty.

Condom producers in other countries are also likely to be halting production, if they haven’t already. Countries like China, where the coronavirus led to widespread factory shutdowns, as well as India and Thailand contribute largely to the supply.


A spokesperson from Reckitt Benckiser, owner of British condoms brand Durex, has assured their company is not experiencing any shortages.

They commented:

We have been made aware of media reports which reference a global shortage of condoms due to manufacturing stoppages in Malaysia.

Durex would like to confirm that all of our operations are working as normal and we are not experiencing any supply shortages. For our consumers, many of whom will be unable to access shops, our Durex online stores remain open for business.

Malaysia is South-east Asia’s worst-affected country for coronavirus, with 2,161 infections and 26 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The lockdown there is due to remain in place at least until April 14.

Though there is a threat of shortage, don’t go stockpiling all the condoms from your local supermarket. Buy a reasonable amount – there’s no need to be cocky – and let the rest of the world practise safe sex, too.

It’s okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our coronavirus campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization on Coronavirus, click here.

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Condoms, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Durex, Malaysia, Sex


Reuters and 1 other
  1. Reuters

    Condom shortage looms after coronavirus lockdown shuts world's top producer

  2. Johns Hopkins University

    Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)