Tags: Coronavirus | Vaccines | covid-19 | slow | spread | disease

Slowing COVID-19 Spread Is Escalating the Spread of Other Diseases

a baby's are is held while they get a measles vaccination
A toddler undergoes a measles vaccination at a centre in Temba, near Seke Banza, western DR Congo on March 3, 2020. (Junior Kannah/AFP via Getty Images)
 

By    |   Monday, 15 June 2020 05:58 PM

The consequences of trying to contain the coronavirus globally have been devastating. When the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread among children gathered to get vaccines, many of the poorest countries stopped their inoculation programs. But that decision has come with a tremendous price. We are seeing a dangerous and potentially deadly surge of measles, polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases in these nations.

In countries that tried to keep the programs on target, it become difficult to even get the vaccines because supplies were often halted and health care workers diverted because of massive efforts to stem the coronavirus.

According to The New York Times, this has led to an uptick of illnesses and death from other diseases. For example, diphtheria is evident in Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Measles is flaring up around the world. Of the 29 countries that suspended measles inoculations because of the pandemic, 18 are reporting outbreaks.

Chibuzo Okonto, president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa said that the “epidemic in a few months’ time will kill more children than COVID-19,” according to the Times.

“Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO. “Disruption to immunization programs from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against disease-preventable disease like measles.”

In the Congo, the second largest country in Africa, the measles epidemic started in 2018 and since January of this year, there have been 60,000 cases and 800 deaths, according to the Times. Ebola, tuberculosis and cholera are also running rampant although vaccines exist for all these diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. In other words, it’s far more contagious than the coronavirus.

Dr. Stephen L. Cochi, a senior advisor at the global immunization division of the CDC said he hopes that polio campaigns will resume swiftly and worries that the pandemic will set back a global, decades-long effort to end this disease.

According to Science Mag, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative recommended suspending polio vaccination campaigns on March 24 until the second half of this year. Two days later, WHO issued a recommendation that all preventative campaigns for other diseases be postponed because they would go against the idea of social distancing.

But experts say the fallout from the gut-wrenching decisions will have a lasting effect on our global population long after the pandemic subsides. According to Science Mag over 13.5 million people have missed vaccinations for polio, measles, yellow fever and other diseases since the suspensions began.

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The consequences of trying to contain the coronavirus globally have been devastating. When the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread among children gathered to get vaccines, many of the poorest countries stopped their inoculation...
covid-19, slow, spread, disease
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2020-58-15
Monday, 15 June 2020 05:58 PM
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