According to health agencies, there was a significant increase in measles-related fatalities worldwide, with a rise of over 40% in the past year. This can be attributed to a significant drop in vaccination rates during the pandemic.
According to a recent report by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a highly contagious illness caused outbreaks in 37 countries in 2020, compared to 22 countries in 2021. This disease affected 9 million children and resulted in 136,000 deaths, primarily in economically disadvantaged nations.
After the pandemic, the agencies reported a 20% increase in measles cases due to a decrease in immunization rates, which hit a 15-year low.
John Vertefeuille, from the CDC, stated that the rise in cases and fatalities of measles is alarming. This was predicted due to the decrease in vaccination rates over recent years.
Two doses of the measles vaccine are highly protective against the disease. Children in developing countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and India are at highest risk. WHO and CDC said that immunization rates in poorer countries are about 66%, “a rate that shows no recovery at all from the backsliding during the pandemic.”
Measles is a highly contagious illness that is transmitted through the air when an individual who is infected coughs or sneezes. It primarily affects children under the age of 5 and presents with symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, and a unique rash.
The primary causes of death are typically related to issues such as encephalitis, severe dehydration, significant respiratory issues, and pneumonia. These complications are more prevalent in infants and individuals over the age of thirty.
In recent years, the disease has seen a significant increase in wealthy nations. In July, health officials in Britain issued a warning that there was a great likelihood of outbreaks in London, as certain parts of the city had a vaccination rate of only 40% among children.
The U.K.’s rates of immunization for measles have not returned to previous levels since false allegations were made by disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield over twenty years ago, connecting the vaccine to autism. Despite no scientific evidence supporting this claim, Wakefield’s research caused numerous parents worldwide to stop vaccinating their children.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group provides support to the Associated Press Health and Science Department. All content is the responsibility of the AP.