Will the world witness a resurgence of measles? Global health answers

Precautionary measures to counter COVID-19 infection, such as wearing protective masks, working remotely, restrictions on travel between countries, and curfews at times, have slowed transmission of other respiratory diseases, including measles.

Dr. Patrick O’Connor, medical officer in the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biology at the World Health Organization, said that with the easing of these restrictions, the world is witnessing an increase in the number of measles cases, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, noting that it is a particularly worrying situation because there is an increase in the number of children who missed routine measles doses, due to disruptions to healthcare services during the pandemic.

Serious complications

In an interview, conducted by Vismita Gupta-Smith, as part of its series “Science in Five”, which is proven by the World Health Organization through its official platforms, Dr. O’Connor explained that measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which spreads easily through the air as a result of the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. Symptoms usually include fever and rash. Complications of measles infection are common and can range from mild, such as diarrhea, to very serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis.

Dr. O’Connor warned of the seriousness of measles, explaining that before the introduction of the measles vaccine in the early 1960s and universal immunization, there were an estimated two million deaths attributed to measles each year, most of them children.


Dr. O’Connor added that in 2021, an estimated 25 million children did not receive their first dose of measles vaccines, compared to 20 million children in 2019, the year that witnessed the largest measles outbreak in two decades, so it is important to be sure. of vaccinating those who missed the measles vaccine in order to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2019.

On ways to prevent the transmission of measles virus infection to children, Dr. O’Connor said that vaccination is the best protection against measles, stressing that the measles vaccine is safe and effective, and since its introduction, billions of doses have been administered worldwide, to prevent exposure to serious illnesses and death.

missed scheduled dose

Dr. O’Connor explained that even if a child misses a scheduled measles dose, it’s not a problem, as they can get vaccinated now. It is important to remember that the measles immunization also protects against all other immunizations.

the most affected groups

Dr. O’Connor concluded that among the additional benefits of vaccination is that it protects family and community members young and old from measles, explaining that access to it is especially important for those who are younger, chronically ill and immunocompromised.

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