World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that there is now an imminent threat of measles spreading in various regions globally, as COVID-19 led to a steady decline in vaccination coverage and weakened surveillance of the disease.
In a joint report, the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released yesterday said, a record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose last year due to the COVID pandemic.
WHO’s measles lead Patrick O’Connor said, while measles cases have not yet gone up dramatically compared to previous years, now is the time to act. He said, we are at a crossroads and it is going to be a very challenging 12-24 months trying to mitigate this.
The WHO official said, it has already seen an increase in large disruptive outbreaks since the start of this year and added that he was particularly worried about parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the WHO, there were an estimated nine million cases and 128000 deaths from measles worldwide in 2021 while 22 countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.
Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses and is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. However, it requires 95 percent vaccine coverage to prevent outbreaks among populations.