The panic caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led to the suspension of vaccination campaigns against measles, yellow fever or polio. And the desertification of health centers raises fears of a resurgence of other diseases such as dengue. Some organizations are alarmed by an unprecedented health crisis to come in poor countries.
” Choose between plague and cholera “: This is how Seth Berkley, the head of Gavi (Global Alliance for vaccines and immunization), describes the dilemma facing the organization. On March 24, the GPEI (Global Polio Eradication Initiative) recommended the suspension of all marketing campaigns vaccination against polio underway in Africa so as not to promote spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus. While recognizing that this will lead to more paralyzed children and the re-emergence of the disease in countries where it had been eradicated. Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the virus, could be the first victims.
Yellow fever, diphtheria, measles: all vaccination campaigns suspended
And polio is unfortunately not the only one concerned. On March 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) also advocated a “temporary suspension” of vaccination against all other diseases, such as yellow fever, the diphtheria where the measles. WHO considers that the social distancing necessary to contain the Covid-19 is incompatible with the distribution of vaccines in the villages. Some 13.5 million children have already missed immunization against polio, measles, cholera or the meningitis since the start of the suspension, laments Seth Berkley in the magazine Science.
A dengue epidemic in Latin America
In Latin America, it’s a formidable epidemic of dengue who worries. The region already had a sad record in 2019, with more than 3.14 million people infected, an increase of 30% compared to 2015. Since the beginning of the year, more than 661,000 cases have already been confirmed in America from the South including 1,820 serious. While rapid access to medical care generally lowers the death rate below 1%, the overload of health systems due to Covid-19 could cause the number of deaths to explode. Especially since the two diseases present symptoms similar (fever, headache, body aches…). In Guadeloupe, where 7,260 cases have been recorded since October 2019, the dengue Fortunately, it seems to be declining, but the drop in figures could be due to the desertification medical offices since confinement, warns newspaper France West Indies.
The worst measles epidemic since the invention of the vaccine
Measles vaccination campaigns have already been postponed in 24 countries and others planned for later in 2020 in 13 countries are also likely not to take place, warns the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) . More than 117 million children could be without a vaccine, the organization warns. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the measles epidemic is however particularly virulent this year. Since early 2019, the disease has infected 341,000 people and caused 6,400 deaths, three times more than Ebola during the same period. And the disease, 10 times more contagious than Covid-19, spreads like wildfire. According to WHO experts, this epidemic could be ” the worst ever recorded in a country since the invention of the vaccine in 1963 “Reports Nature.
The DRC is not the only country affected. In 2018, 10 million people were affected worldwide, resulting in 140,000 deaths, an increase of 58% compared to 2016. A upsurge linked in large part by reluctance towards vaccination in rich countries, but also to deficiencies in health systems in developing countries. However, the latter are particularly vulnerable. While the measles mortality rate is usually 3 to 6% (already almost 10 times higher than that of Covid-19), it can reach 30% in some regions due to malnutrition and deficiencies in vitamin a. Worse, we recently discovered that measles “destroyed the immune system”, thus leaving the door open to other diseases … like Covid-19.
A vaccine shortage linked to the closing of borders?
WHO recommends, however, the continuation of vaccination in health centers and hospitals. But as is the case in France, we see that in Africa the inhabitants fear to go to these centers for fear of being infected with it. coronavirus. Another problem is the possible shortage of vaccine fueled by the closure of the borders. While it does not yet exist no vaccine against Covid-19, all these diseases are however easily preventable. In the general panic caused by the pandemic of coronavirus, does one measure the scale of risk that one poses on vulnerable populations?
What you must remember
- To avoid the risk of spreading Covid-19, WHO has recommended temporary suspension of vaccination against all other diseases.
- Polio and measles are out of control in many countries, however.
- An upsurge is to be feared, with the key to millions of potential deaths.
Vaccinations: let’s not let our guard down!
Destination Santé article published on 02/28/2010
In just over a century, vaccines will have saved hundreds of millions of lives. They also helped eradicate a disease – the smallpox – and considerably reduce the poliomyelitis. But some, like measles, still resist, often because the number of vaccinations remains too low.
The WHO smallpox campaign from 1967 to 1977 completely eliminated smallpox. In the 1960s, it threatened more than 60% of the world’s population, and one in four people died from it. The situation for polio is different. Although eradication is not yet in sight, the number of infections has fallen by 99% since 1988. In total, more than 5 million people have thus escaped paralysis or death.
In 2008, 106 million children were vaccinated worldwide. A record! Each year, vaccines prevent 3 million deaths and protect 750,000 children from sequelae infectious diseases.
Tetanus, poliomyelitis, diphtheria … these diseases have practically disappeared in France. So why continue to vaccinate? Because virus and bacteria still circulate with us, as in the rest of the world naturally. Vaccination is therefore often the only way to guarantee effective protection.
Vaccination: an altruistic gesture
Protection is for oneself but it is also an altruistic gesture since it contributes to the protection of an entire population. In fact, the more children who are vaccinated, the less they transmit the virus or the bacteria concerned and the more this disease is likely to disappear.
The proof with measles, which France fails to eradicate. Why ? Because children and young adults are too little vaccinated. In 2008, more than 600 cases of measles were declared – 604 very precisely -, 94% of them in people who were not fully vaccinated or … not at all. Between January and August 2009, the number of cases increased further: 1,200 reports and two deaths. This is why it is extremely important to vaccinate infants (in two doses) against measles with the trivalent vaccine, but also to supplement the vaccination of children and adolescents who have received only one dose.
How it works ? During a vaccination, a microbe where are you attenuated, therefore harmless. The organization recognizes it, however, as if it were active and produces antibody to defend. Our defenses will then remember the traces of this battle. So as soon as the germ will come up again, they will react more quickly – and efficiently – to make specific antibodies.
Conversely, without vaccination our immune defenses will not have time to make enough antibodies. Thus virus and microbe will cause a clinical form of the disease, sometimes with serious complications. To build a sufficient defense, several doses are generally necessary. This is the purpose of reminders, which consolidate and maintain immune memory. Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects in some people. They are most often moderate and transient – fever or localized reactions such as redness, pain or swelling. Allergic reactions are certainly possible, but it is exceptional that they have a character of gravity.
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