The World Health Organization (WHO) and a US public health agency said on Wednesday that there is a risk of measles outbreaks in different regions of the world as COVID-19 has led to continued declines in vaccine coverage and weakened disease control. November 23).
Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses and is almost completely preventable through vaccination. However, 95 percent vaccination coverage is required to prevent outbreaks in the population.
A joint report by the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nearly 40 million children missed measles vaccine doses in 2021 due to disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic.
Patrick O’Connor, WHO’s head of measles, told Reuters that measles cases have not yet increased dramatically compared to previous years, and now is the time to act.
“We’re at a crossroads,” he said Tuesday. “It’s going to be a very difficult 12 to 24 months trying to mitigate this.”
A combination of factors such as prolonged social distancing measures and the cyclical nature of measles may explain why cases have not yet exploded despite widening immunity gaps, but that could change quickly, O’Connor said, pointing to the disease’s highly contagious nature. disease.
The WHO has already seen a rise in major devastating outbreaks since the start of 2022, rising from 19 to almost 30 by September, O’Connor said, adding that he was particularly concerned about parts of sub-Saharan Africa.