The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF said on Friday that the coronavirus epidemic is disrupting routine vaccination programs, putting the lives of tens of millions of children at risk.
United Nations agencies have joined forces with the vaccine alliance Gavi, warning that the pandemic has severely disrupted vaccination programs in dozens of countries and paved the way for a fatal rebirth of preventable diseases. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, said at a virtual joint press conference, “COVID-19 threatens to undermine life-saving vaccination services around the world.”
“This puts tens of millions of children at risk for deadly diseases such as diphtheria, measles and pneumonia, in rich and poor countries.”
He said that while the world is looking for a safe and effective vaccine for the new coronavirus, already available vaccines must still be delivered to prevent other diseases. “The initial analysis shows that the provision of routine vaccination services has been heavily blocked in at least 68 countries and will affect about 80 million children under the age of one living in those countries,” Tedros said. Meanwhile, experts said it is vital to maintain the structure of routine vaccination programs in poorer countries. Because these networks will be the same ones used to distribute an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said measles vaccination campaigns in 27 countries and polio campaigns in 38 states were suspended. UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said countries had to suspend their campaigns due to the need for physical distancing, while some health centers were overflowing with coronavirus response efforts. Meanwhile, healthcare workers have been re-assigned to treat COVID-19 patients. And some parents were unable to take their children into vaccination facilities due to movement restrictions.
The minister said countries should step up their efforts to track unvaccinated children and find innovative solutions, as Laos did by vaccinating children in supermarkets.
Seth Berkley, head of Gavi, said countries must do their best to maintain vaccines. “If we neglect the supply chains and vaccination infrastructure that run these programs, we risk damaging our ability to use our COVID-19 vaccines, which represent our best chance to defeat this epidemic when they are ready,” he said.
He asked countries to spend a lot of money at the global vaccine donors summit held in London on June 4. According to an installment from official sources compiled by AFP; The new coronavirus has killed at least 332,000 people since its appearance in China last December.
At least 5.1 million cases are registered in 196 countries and regions. Tedros, “As the world passes 5 million registered COVID-19 cases, we are aware of the importance of building national unity and global solidarity to learn from each other and suppress the virus everywhere.” Said.