Published: 2020-06-17 12:47
Last Updated: 2021-04-22 11:59
Immunization campaigns were put on hold across the globe to support social distancing laws and eliminate overcrowding at inoculation sites. In an attempt to tackle coronavirus, many diseases were brought back.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued warnings, stressing the risk of the fast-spreading COVID-19 amongst long vaccination queues. A lot of countries suspended their programs accordingly and others, that attempted continuation, failed due to flight suspensions and shortage of staff, as huge numbers have devoted their efforts to the fight against the pandemic.
Due to the interruption of vaccination campaigns, diseases that dropped down the list of health priorities started spreading. Amongst the diseases are diphtheria, which appeared in three countries, cholera in five countries and a mutated strain of poliovirus in over 30 countries.
However, the biggest concern is measles; 18 out of the 29 countries that suspended measles vaccinations have reported outbreaks, as reported by the New York Times (NYT). In an official statement, Chibuzo Okonta, the president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa, said that measles is at risk of becoming an epidemic in the near future and, if it does, would take more children’s lives than coronavirus.
"Disruption to immunization programs from the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director General to the NYT. Therefore, the WHO has already started advising countries and related organizations to resume their immunization programs to take control of the situation before it gets out of hand.
However, with the coronavirus epidemic still a global priority, there are a few obstacles to overcome including limited vaccine supplies and shortage of health care workers and, both due to the current health crisis.