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HomeCURRENT AFFAIRSA single measles patient can infect 18 people, says WHO; lack of...

A single measles patient can infect 18 people, says WHO; lack of vaccination biggest cause

WHO on measles: Expressing concern over the outbreak of measles virus across the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that a single case can lead to 12 to 18 infections. As the situation is getting worse this season, the UN health agency pointed out that the spread of virus was equally severe last year.

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WHO said in a recent release that in 2021, there were an estimated 9 million cases and 128 000 deaths from measles worldwide. Twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.

Lack of vaccination biggest cause

 The UN health agency said ‘lack of vaccination’ and weakened surveillance were identified as the root cause for such outbreaks.

In 2021, a record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose: 25 million children missed their first dose and an additional 14.7 million children missed their second dose.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Getting immunization programmes back on track is absolutely critical. Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease.”

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Vaccination can prevent measles

The most concerning fact is though the virus is extremely contagious, it is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. “Coverage of 95% or greater of 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine is needed to create herd immunity in order to protect communities and achieve and maintain measles elimination.”

However, only 81% of children across the world have received their first measles-containing vaccine dose, and 71% got their second shots. “These are the lowest global coverage rates of the first dose of vaccination since 2008, although coverage varies by country,” the WHO report said.

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