The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the healthcare system to its limits, driving the market to increase production of medical equipment such as masks and respirators. With the fast-tracked production of COVID-19 vaccines, new requirements have emerged for their trials, testing, and administration. And considering that the entire population of the world requires vaccination, the demand for syringes and needles is rising drastically.
According to reports, the syringe market worldwide is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 10% from 2020 to 2025. However, the high demand for syringes can affect medical practices in the following ways.
1. Prioritization of syringes:
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 5%–10% of the total number of syringes produced was used for the purpose of vaccination and immunization against diseases like typhoid, measles, tetanus, etc. The use of syringes is primarily restricted to accident or trauma cases; blood sample collection and monitoring; injection of medication; and diagnosis and treatment of cancer, diabetes, infections, and chronic ailments. Unfortunately, with massive vaccination drives, the current global scenario necessitates that syringes are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations. Although this measure ensures that the pandemic is controlled, in medical practice, this can lead to a dearth of syringes in case of emergencies. Several healthcare facilities worldwide raised concerns regarding whether to prioritize medical injections for patients with diabetes versus COVID-19 vaccinations.
2. Syringe shortage:
In 2021, global organizations such as UNICEF anticipate the stockpiling and delivery of 1 billion syringes to support COVID-19 vaccination. However, about 8–10 billion syringes will be required to vaccinate the entire population. Although several companies have stepped up and are accelerating the production and procurement of syringes and needles, the entire population cannot be vaccinated at the same time. Vaccination for high-risk groups is being prioritized to prevent shortages. Similar to the shortages of personal protective equipment seen earlier during the pandemic, a high demand for immediate vaccination can result in a syringe shortage. A syringe shortage can further burden the healthcare system and disrupt routine medical practice. A shortage can be avoided by facilitating rapid manufacture of syringes through innovation and technology.
3. Accelerated production of syringes:
Key global syringe manufacturers such as Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD); B Braun Melsungen; Terumo; and Teleflex have stepped up to facilitate rapid production of syringes. Moreover, BD claimed to have received orders up to 1 billion syringes to support the vaccination drives and prevent shortages. They aim to supply syringes worldwide and also help non-governmental organizations to support vaccination plans in developing countries. These companies plan to produce and circulate a massive quantity of syringes, with maximum volumes dedicated to COVID-19 control and a sufficient amount of injections to maintain routine healthcare requirements to prevent disruption of medical practice.
4. Innovation and technology:
The high demand for syringes is thus likely to facilitate innovation using technology for not only quicker production but also administration of drugs and medication. Medical practice will eventually reap the benefits advancement in syringe design and technology with products such as self-injection devices and pre-filled injections. Several manufacturers worldwide have improved facilities to expedite the process of syringe production. Furthermore, with programs such as the Vaccine Innovation Prioritization Strategy, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization or GAVI aims to promote innovative approaches to overcome the dilemma of prioritization, shortages, and other issues surrounding mass vaccination.
Although the high demand for syringes may cause shortages initially, the demands can easily be met through innovation and strategies laid down by global organizations to prevent the pandemic from burdening healthcare facilities. In this regard, there is an increased demand on all stakeholders of the entire supply chain right from manufactures, wholesalers and distributors, retailers, hospitals, vaccination centers, healthcare personnel etc., to be vigilant, ethical, and stay sharp when it comes to syringes.
In our bid to contribute, we at Pipeline Medical continue to offer sustainably produced, high-quality medical equipment including syringes to meet the growing demand in an ethical and moral way.