A study by researchers at the University of Washington estimates that about 17 million children lost the first dose of measles and the third diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (known as DTP3), due to the covid-19 pandemic. According to this research, the level of global protection against these diseases has fallen below 80% in 2020, which is 7% less than expected for the two vaccines in the absence of a pandemic. The authors of the work published in a prestigious journal Lancetwarn that this reduction in immunization may increase the risk of measles outbreaks and cause death.
The study is based on the monthly vaccination data for 2019 and 2020 sent by each participating country to the EU National Delegation World Health Organization, to which they added information from the relevant ministries and various official publications. A total of 170 countries (including Spain) were sampled, although not all have the same amount of data, as their availability varies from country to country. Of these 170 countries, 126 (74%) suffered some interruption of vaccination during the pandemic. These arrests are explained, in addition to anti-imprisonment measures, by the fact that all sources of health have been focused on the fight against covid and that the rest of the illness settled in the back seat.
The countries most affected by this disruption are in South Asia, where 3.6 million DTP3 vaccines and 2.2 million measles vaccines have been stopped, almost double expectations. In this region, protection against the first three diseases fell by 13% compared with the forecast, while protection against measles fell by 4%.
Of the 170 countries in the sample, 126 countries (74%) were discontinued during the pandemic
On the contrary, the least affected area was sub-Saharan Africa. In this area, coverage fell by 4% in 2020 (approximately 900,000 children did not receive DTP3 vaccines and 1.1 million measles vaccines). Jonathan Mosser, one of the study’s authors, explains the late influence of the covid in the area: “These minor disruptions may be partly related to the smaller scale of the covid-19 pandemic in this area, especially in the first half of 2020.” Rafael Vilasanjuán, Director of Analysis Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and that he did not take part in the research, considers that, in addition, the vaccination systems in these countries are “quite sound” because ” preventive medicine it’s the best tool they have. ” Nevertheless, the authors warn that the level of immunization is low in this area, so even if the decrease in coverage is small, it can cause severe outbreaks.
In more developed countries, the number of minors left without benefits has doubled. Experts estimate that 600,000 to 1.2 million children did not receive a third dose of DTP3, while 700,000 to 1.5 million did not receive the measles antibody. In Spain, researchers used the data collected Spanish Vaccination Association in Madrid and Andalusia during March and in the Murcia region in March and April. Kate Causey, another author of the work, emphasizes that several available data determine the results: “The rest of the year is based on projections of a model that uses mobility estimates in Spain and formulas observed in other countries, especially from high-income regions. “
The least affected area was sub-Saharan Africa. One of the authors of the study explains this by the late influence that covid-19 had in this area
Without the pandemic, the authors estimate that Spain would achieve 96% immunity against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (now 89%) and 99% of its population would be protected against measles (compared to 83% who received the vaccine). To the question of this newspaper, the Ministry of Health and Spanish Association of Pediatrics They made sure that they did not yet have complete data on how the discontinuation of vaccination affected them. Vaccination in Spain depends on the Autonomous Communities, not all have the same calendars or send dates at the same time.
Vaccination levels resumed during the second half of 2020, and by December of that year, worldwide monthly doses were approaching expected levels. Nevertheless, the report lists more than eight million children whose immunization with each vaccine was not completed in 2020. Vilasanjuán explains that once rich countries achieve group immunity to COVID, the number of vaccines available to them will increase. which may target immunization to covid rather than other diseases. “It will be necessary to control a lot so that other diseases do not start,” he warns. “In the coming months and years, it will be crucial not only to regain pre-pandemic immunity levels, as this would strengthen previous differences.” Lessons from a pandemic are essential for building stronger routine immunization systems. It will be crucial to encourage countries and communities to better reach children who have historically been excluded from immunization programs so that we can achieve high and fair access to vaccines for all, ”Mosser asks.
FAILURE OF ERRORS: The first version of this article, in the subtitle and in the body of the report, stated that the DTP3 vaccine protects against diphtheria, tuberculosis and whooping cough, when in fact it protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.