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Covid-19 Halts Global Vaccination Programme

  • 23 May 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

As per the report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners, nearly 80 million children under the age of 1 are at risk of contracting deadly but vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, polio and diphtheria.

  • This is so because many countries have postponed their vaccine campaigns due to Covid-19.
  • The report has come ahead of the Global Vaccine Summit on 4th June, at which world leaders are expected to come together to help maintain immunization programmes and mitigate the impact of the pandemic in lower-income countries.
    • The Summit will provide an opportunity for the international community to pledge its support for Gavi’s five-year strategy (2021-2025) which is aimed at immunizing 300 million children and saving up to 8 million lives.
  • The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Washington, USA), and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (Gavi), are the partner organisations.

Key Points

  • Data:
    • More than half (53%) of the 129 countries where data were available reported moderate-to-severe disruptions, or a total suspension of vaccination services during March-April 2020.
  • Reasons for the disruption:
    • Vaccination, which is typically done in mass campaigns, has been stopped due to fear of breaking social distancing guidelines needed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
    • Health workers who provide vaccinations have also been diverted to help with the response to the pandemic.
    • Also, there has been a significant delay in planned vaccine deliveries due to lockdown measures and reduction in the number of available flights.
      • More than 40 of Africa's 54 nations have closed their borders, though some allow cargo and emergency transport.
  • Concerns:
    • Disruption to immunization programs from the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to undo decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like Measles, Polio and Diphtheria.
    • According to the experts, children need routine immunizations before the age of 2.

Immunization

  • It is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine.
  • Functioning:
    • A vaccine usually consists of two parts and is usually given through an injection. The first part is the antigen, which is a piece of disease one’s body must learn to recognise. The second part is the adjuvant, which sends a danger signal to the body and helps the immune system to respond strongly against the antigen.
    • In simple terms, vaccines work by exposing a person to a safer version of a disease. While the body responds to the vaccine, it builds an adaptive immune system, which helps the body to fight off the actual infection in the future.
  • According to the WHO, vaccination prevents between two-three million deaths each year, a figure that will rise by another 1.5 million if vaccine coverage improves.

Way Forward

  • There is an urgent need to focus upon the Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020 that is a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to existing vaccines for people in all communities.
  • It is equally important for the countries to give importance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 i.e. Good Health and Well being.
  • There is a need for an immediate action plan to restart the vaccination programmes through better health infrastructure and medical equipment during the corona crisis.
  • Countries should start efforts at individual level e.g. India can expedite the vaccination programmes under the Mission Indardhanush.

Source: ET

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