SHP epidemiologist Eran Bendavid warns nearly 120 million children in 37 countries are at risk of missing their measles vaccines as public health campaigns, particularly in Africa, take a backseat to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter published in Science magazine on July 17, Bendavid and several colleagues argue the disruption of the measles-containing vaccines (MCV) would lead to more susceptible individuals, more communities with less than the 95% MCV coverage needed for herd immunity — and more outbreaks of the often deadly disease worldwide.
"The COVID pandemic is reaping a terrible health burden, but our response to the pandemic should not be so narrow as to lose sight of so many other sources of death and suffering,” said Bendavid, an associate professor of medicine. “Pausing mass childhood vaccination campaigns may exact a high toll and exacerbate other pandemics as we address this one.”
The letter notes a mere 15% decrease in routine measles vaccination — a plausible result of lockdowns and disruption of health services — could lead to a quarter-million childhood deaths in poorer countries.