While the World Health Organization says that wearing rubber or latex gloves in public offers little protection against infection, they are becoming an increasingly common sight in shops and public transport around the world.
“We are observing a more than threefold increase in demand for examination gloves, and demand for surgical gloves has also increased significantly,” said Monika Riedel, spokeswoman for Austrian company Semperit, whose Sempermed subsidiary makes between seven and eight billion gloves every year.
Malaysia is the world’s biggest maker of rubber gloves, accounting for around 60 percent of global exports.
And according to the Malaysian manufacturers’ association MARGMA, worldwide demand is projected to rise from 296 billion in 2019 to 330 billion this year.
Given the surge, the industry is forecasting a shortage that is expected to last well into next year, MARGMA said.
Malaysian manufacturer Top Glove, which describes itself as the world’s biggest producer of rubber gloves, said it is seeing orders for 11-12 billion a month, compared with 4.5 billion prior to the pandemic.