Breaking News —

About 80 million children under the age of one in 68 poor countries have not received vaccination against serious diseases like diphtheria, measles or polio because of the measures and restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 crisis.

This was announced this Friday at a press conference by the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who together with UNICEF and the World Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization has made a global appeal to all countries to reinstate campaigns.

As he explained, since expanded childhood vaccination programs became widespread in most countries in the 1970s, “There has never been an interruption at the international level like this”.

In this sense, it has stated that since mid-March, at least 68 countries have reported significant limitations – delays or suspensions – in their vaccination campaigns, which is “one of the most powerful and fundamental tools to prevent diseases in the history of the public health”. “This may represent a setback of up to a decade in the progress achieved in the eradication of preventable infectious diseases such as measles “, which is especially serious for children, Ghebreyesus has warned.

In the same press conference, the executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, pointed to the measures of social estrangement, home confinement and disruption of supply chains due to limitations in transport and international trade as the main causes of this massive lack of supply.

To all this we must add the lack of health professionals, since “many have dedicated themselves to fighting against COVID-19,” he indicated, and the reluctance of parents, who do not take their children to vaccination centers for fear of contagion.

Great dangers

Fore has underlined the seriousness of the stoppage in the immunization campaigns against measles, suspended in 27 countries, and against polio, paralyzed in 38. “They are very serious pathologies that were controlled in many countries, and we risk losing everything accomplished“, has warned.

At least 24 million people in 21 low-income countries receiving vaccine partnership funding are at risk of running out of immunization against polio, typhus, measles, cholera, diphtheria, HPV, and rubella, among others, due to delays or suspensions in the campaigns.

For all these reasons, Fore has urged states to resume vaccination campaigns urgently and has called on governments, the private sector, airlines and other companies to “free up cargo space at an affordable cost for these life-saving vaccines”.

“We cannot allow our fight against disease to occur at the expense of long-term struggle against others“he assured.

“Although current circumstances may require that we temporarily stop some immunization efforts, these vaccines should be restarted as soon as possible“has continued, or “we risk exchanging one fatal outbreak for another”.