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COVID-19 disruption could erase decade’s worth of global vaccine coverage for childhood diseases, Unicef warns

Global efforts to vaccinate children against fatal diseases such as measles and polio could be set back a decade due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Unicef has warned.

Immunisation campaigns and routine vaccine services have been suspended across the world to limit the transmission of COVID-19, leaving countries with weak health systems susceptible to a resurgence in preventable illnesses once lockdown restrictions are lifted and societies reopen.

More than 25 vulnerable countries have placed their immunisation programmes for measles on hold, while the delivery of Ebola vaccinations across central Africa, in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR), has similarly been suspended or curtailed.

“Our immediate concern is with disruption to currently available vaccines,” Dr Robin Nandy, global chief of immunisation at Unicef, told The Independent. “We expect to go back maybe five to 10 years. The longer the disruptions continue, the more concerned we are as it builds the number of susceptible kids in populations.

“What we’re trying to avoid is countries recovering from the current Covid pandemic then being hit by another outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease.”

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Source: The Independent, 18 May 2020


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