New WHO warning

Global progress against measles is compromised by the Covid-19 pandemic, warned the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warning of “the threat of an epidemic outbreak of measles which is becoming more pressing ”.

Thus, the WHO and CDC fear that the pandemic will continue to limit routine vaccinations, causing other dangerous epidemics like measles.

“A greater increase in the number of unvaccinated children for 20 years and critical gaps in disease surveillance increase the risk of measles outbreaks, putting lives at risk,” they warned in a report released on Wednesday. .

The joint report states that although reported measles cases have decreased compared to previous years, noting that gains continue to decline and the risk of disease outbreaks is increasing.

“Although reported measles cases declined in 2020, the data suggests that we are likely seeing the calm before the storm as the risk of disease outbreaks continues to rise globally,” said Dr. Kate O’Brien, director from the Immunization Department at WHO, cited in the report.

In 2020, more than 22 million infants missed their first dose of measles vaccine, 3 million more than in 2019, marking the largest increase in two decades and creating dangerous conditions for the occurrence of outbreaks. Compared to the previous year, reported measles cases fell by more than 80% in 2020, according to the same source.

Yet the ability of countries to ensure that children receive the recommended two doses of measles vaccine is a key indicator of global progress towards measles elimination and the ability to prevent the spread of the virus, notes the report. report, noting that coverage for the first dose dropped in 2020, and only 70% of children received their second dose of measles vaccine, which is well below the 95% coverage needed to protect communities from the disease. spread of the measles virus.

“Even before the pandemic, we found that even small pockets of low measles vaccine coverage could fuel unprecedented epidemics, including in countries where the disease was considered eradicated,” said Ephrem Tekle Lemango, director of UNICEF for immunization.

SL (with MAP)

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