Global vaccinations of seafarers are going too slowly to prevent outbreaks on ships from causing more trade disruptions, endangering maritime workers and potentially slowing economies trying to pull out of pandemic slowdowns.
Infections on vessels could further harm already strained global supply chains, just as the U.S. and Europe recover and companies start stocking up for Christmas. The shipping industry is sounding the alarm as infections increase and some ports continue to restrict access to seafarers from developing countries that supply the majority of maritime workers but can’t vaccinate them.
“It’s a perfect storm,” says Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping that represents ship owners. “With this new delta strain, there’s no doubt it’s setting us back and the situation is getting worse. Demand for products isn’t letting up, crew changes aren’t happening fast enough and governments continue to stick their heads in the sand.”