The United Nations on Wednesday warned of an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations because of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying a child born today is less than 20 per cent likely to have all recommended vaccines by the age of 5.
“The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunisations could be far greater than Covid-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO.
Most of the 82 countries surveyed in May reported vaccination campaigns being disrupted because of coronavirus.
The study was carried out by the World Health Organisation, Unicef and Gavi, a public-private partnership started by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that buys vaccines for about 60 per cent of the world’s children.
It found more than 30 measles campaigns around the world have been halted or are at risk, which could result in further outbreaks in 2020 and beyond.
Preliminary and emerging data from January to April showed there may be a substantial decrease in children completing three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines.
Even before the pandemic, 14 million children around the world were not receiving vaccinations, most of them in Africa where they were unlikely to have access to other health care.
Vaccination rates already have plummeted over the past decade in Brazil, Bolivia, Haiti and Venezuela.
Now it has become harder for health workers to administer vaccines because many have been redirected towards the pandemic response.