WHO: measles now poses an imminent threat

24 November, 2022
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WHO: measles now poses an imminent threat


The World Health Organization and a US public health agency said on Wednesday that measles now poses an imminent threat to spread to different parts of the world, as the Covid-19 epidemic causes a steady decline in vaccinations and weakens disease surveillance.


Measles is one of the most contagious viruses in humans and is almost completely preventable through vaccination. However, this would require a 95 percent vaccination rate to prevent an outbreak in the population.


The World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a joint report that a record number of nearly 40 million children missed the measles vaccination dose in 2021 due to the obstacles caused by the Corona epidemic. 

Patrick O'Connor, head of the WHO's measles department, told Reuters that while there has been no significant increase in measles cases compared to previous years, it is time to act.


"We're at a crossroads," he said on Tuesday. "We're going through a very challenging 12 to 24-month period to try to mitigate the impact of this."


He pointed out that a combination of factors such as continuous social distancing measures and the cyclical nature of measles may explain why infections do not explode despite widening immunization gaps, but that can change quickly, pointing to the highly contagious nature of measles. 

He said the World Health Organization had already recorded a significant increase in infections since the start of 2022, rising from 19 to nearly 30 by September, adding that he was particularly concerned about parts of sub-Saharan Africa.


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