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Coronavirus has suspended vaccination against other diseases: the world is threatened by malaria and polio

On Monday, April 29, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that mortality among children around the world could increase as the coronavirus pandemic forces some countries to temporarily stop vaccinating against other deadly diseases, such as polio. Writes about this CNBC.

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“At least 21 countries report vaccine shortages as a result of quarantines designed to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. "The tragic reality is that children will die as a result."

Tedros said while vaccination was delayed in some countries, health care interventions for other diseases, such as malaria, were interrupted, noting that the number of cases of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa could double.

Tedros called on WHO member countries to help ensure that vaccination programs are fully funded, saying the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization will need $ 7,4 billion to immunize 300 million children with 18 types of vaccines by 2025.

On the subject: WHO: the presence of antibodies to coronavirus does not mean that a person is immune to COVID-19

“When vaccination coverage declines, new outbreaks occur,” Tedros said.

Why are poliomyelitis and malaria terrible?

According to Wikipedia polio causes cerebrospinal paralysis. This is an acute infectious disease caused by damage to the gray matter of the spinal cord by poliovirus and characterized mainly by pathology of the nervous system. It mainly proceeds in an asymptomatic form.

There are two types of polio vaccines. The first includes an inactivated virus and is administered by injection, the second includes a weakened virus and is administered as drops in the mouth. A mandatory requirement of the World Health Organization is to vaccinate all newborns. Two vaccines reduced the incidence of disease. from 350 thousand in 1988 to 359 cases in 2014.

Malaria - a group of infectious diseases transmitted to a person by bites by female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria mosquitoes", is caused by parasitic protists of the genus Plasmodium, mainly Plasmodium falciparum, according to Wikipedia.

Malaria is accompanied by fever, chills, splenomegaly (an increase in the size of the spleen), hepatomegaly (an increase in the size of the liver), and anemia. It is characterized by a chronic relapsing course.

At the beginning of the XXI century, the incidence was 350-500 million cases per year, of which 1,3-3 million ended in death. Mortality was expected to double in the next 20 years. According to recent WHO estimates, from 124 to 283 million cases of infection with malarial plasmodia and from 367 to 755 thousand deaths occur annually from the disease.

Between 2000 and 2013, global malaria mortality rates fell by 47%, and in the WHO African Region by 54%. 85-90% of cases of infection occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the vast majority of children are infected under the age of 5 years.

In 2019, the effectiveness of the existing plasmodium malaria vaccine is low (31–56%). A new highly effective (90% or more) vaccine is being tested.

What will happen next

Tedros said the outbreak of coronavirus, which began in late December 2019, is “far from over," adding the agency is concerned about new cases in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and some Asian countries.

“We continue to provide these countries with technical assistance through our offices, as well as supply them with the necessary resources,” he said.

WHO has recently warned world leaders that they will have to fight coronavirus in the foreseeable future, as in some countries the incidence rate is declining, while in other countries it is peaking and is reborn in areas where the Covid-19 pandemic seemed under control.

“Make no mistake, we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time, ”said Tedros.

While the social distance measures taken in many countries to slow the spread of coronavirus have been successful, the virus remains "extremely dangerous." Current data show that “most of the world's population remains vulnerable,” and outbreaks can easily “revive”.

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