The scarcity of semiconductor chips, which has impacted the global industry - And the automaker in particular – it can get worse thanks to the slowness in the vaccination against the Covid-19. If it was the pandemic itself that initially affected the production of the components, the increase in outbreaks on ships could put maritime distribution logistics at risk and cause more interruptions in trade, according to experts heard by Bloomberg.
As workers in the maritime sector depend on the vaccination policies of their countries of origin to take immunizations, only 2,5% of this workforce has been vaccinated, according to estimates by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). Therefore, in many cases, the entire crew of several ships ends up prohibited from disembarking in several ports.
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According to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of the volume of global trade is handled by maritime transport. Two million maritime workers operate the global fleet of merchant ships – and more than half come from developing countries like India, the Philippines or Indonesia.
“Supply chains are already on edge because of the recovery in consumer demand, semiconductor shortages and transportation difficulties caused by events such as the Suez Canal blockade and Chinese port closures,” explained transport expert Tom Fairbairn, in an interview with Insider.
In the United States alone, industrial production fell 0,1% in June – the third drop in five months, according to the Federal Reserve. The shortage of semiconductor chips pushed the production of cars, trucks and auto parts down 6,6% in the same month.
“The delta variant is holding us back and the situation is getting worse. Demand for products is not decreasing, crew changes are not happening quickly enough and governments continue to turn a blind eye,” warns Esben Poulsson, president of ICS. “Those who are in the supply chain must be prepared for new interruptions in the critical preparation for Christmas”, he completes.
Gard P&I, the world's largest marine insurer, recorded an increase in claims for Covid-19 infections between April and May. There were more than 100 monthly outbreaks that affected ships and mobile offshore units, such as drilling platforms. During the global peak of the pandemic, between July and August 2020, the insurer recorded 80 outbreaks on ships and offshore units.
The lack of international coordination is the biggest challenge. India has started vaccination programs for its more than 200 sailors, but Poulsson says the initiative needs a boost. In May, about 14% of seafarers in the country had received a single dose of the vaccine and 1% had received both doses.
“The government has put something down on paper to say that they have made seafarers essential workers, but they are not being prioritized for vaccination,” says Chirag Bahri, director of the International Maritime Assistance and Welfare Network in India. "Without a second dose, they really can't get on a ship."
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