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Covid-19 paralyzes vaccination and exposes 80 million babies to other diseases

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Covid-19 paralyzes vaccination and exposes 80 million babies to other diseases

The interruption of mass vaccination campaigns due to the coronavirus pandemic has put at least 80 million children under the age of one at risk of contracting diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio. The data was released on Friday, 22, by the global health agencies Alliance Gavi de Vaccines, United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and World Health Organization (WHO), which call for the continuation of immunization.

The severe warning precedes the Global Vaccine Summit on June 4, at which world leaders will meet to discuss immunization programs and the impact of the pandemic on populations in low-income countries. At the meeting, Gavi hopes to receive donations to finance the production and distribution of vaccines.

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As the pandemic affects children and adolescents, the complaint that threatens Witzel and more. Read in the week's edition

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The expectation is to raise at least $ 7.4 billion for Gavi to vaccinate 300 million children in 68 low-income countries between 2021 and 2025. In addition, funding can help rebuild health systems to help combat the damage caused by the pandemic.

Water below

According to data collected by WHO, Unicef, Gavi and Sabin Vaccine Institute, routine immunization services have been hampered in at least 68 countries since March, which will affect approximately 80 million children under the age of one year.

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The situation is unprecedented since the start of expanded immunization programs (PPE) in the 1970s. More than half (53%) of the 129 countries with available data reported interruptions or the total suspension of vaccination services between March and April this year. .

"Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO. "The interruption of immunization programs during the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to disintegrate decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles."

The reasons for the interrupted services vary. Some families are reluctant to leave home due to restrictions against the coronavirus, there is a lack of information or fear of contagion. Many health professionals are unavailable due to travel restrictions or relocation to respond to the pandemic – in addition to the lack of protective equipment.

"Maintaining immunization programs will not only prevent further outbreaks, but will also guarantee the necessary infrastructure to deploy a possible vaccine against Covid-19 on a global scale," said Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi.

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Delays in transporting vaccines are exacerbating the situation. Unicef ​​reported failures in planned deliveries due to blocking measures, which limited commercial flights and charters. The United Nations called on governments and the private sector to negotiate affordable freight for these vaccines. Gavi recently signed an agreement with Unicef ​​to cover rising transport costs.

"We cannot let our fight against a disease come at the expense of long-term progress in the fight against other diseases," said Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef. "Although circumstances may require a temporary halt to some immunization efforts, these immunizations must restart as soon as possible, or we risk exchanging one deadly outbreak for another."

Next week, WHO will issue new advice to countries on maintaining essential services during the pandemic, including recommendations on how to deliver vaccines safely.

Waiting immunization

In late March, WHO recommended the temporary suspension of preventive immunization campaigns to prevent crowding and reduce the contagion of Covid-19. Vaccination campaigns against measles and polio, in particular, have been severely affected. At least 27 countries have suspended measles programs and 38 polio campaigns.

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At least 24 million people in 21 low-income countries supported by Gavi are at risk of losing vaccines against polio, measles, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, rotavirus, HPV, meningitis-A and rubella.

Now, WHO has directed that each country carry out specific risk assessments, based on the local dynamics of coronavirus transmission and the capacity of the health system. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) called for a safe restart of polio vaccination campaigns, especially in high-risk countries.

Despite the challenges, some countries are making efforts to continue immunization. Uganda maintained vaccination services with other essential health services, including financing transport for the population. In Laos, despite the national blockade imposed in March, routine immunization continued amid measures of distance.

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