Measles cases, deaths and outbreaks increased dramatically between 2021 and 2022, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows. .
The research, published Friday (Nov. 17) in the CDC journal Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR), revealed an 18% increase in the estimated number of measles cases between 2021 and 2022. That’s an increase from about 7.8 million cases to 9.2 million. Measles deaths increased 43% globally, from 95,000 in 2021 to 136,200 in 2022. The number of countries reporting “large or disruptive outbreaks” of measles jumped from 22 in 2021 to 37 in 2022, an increase of 68%.
“The increase in measles outbreaks and deaths is staggering, but unfortunately not unexpected given the declining vaccination rates we have seen in recent years.” John Vertefeuilledirector of the CDC’s Division of Global Immunization, said in a statement.
“Measles cases anywhere represent a risk for all countries and communities where people are under-vaccinated,” he said. “Urgent and targeted efforts are essential to prevent measles illness and deaths.”
WHO and UNICEF track the number of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine doses administered around the world each year and divide that number by the total population of children in the age group recommended to receive the vaccine. . Between 2000 and 2019, MMR vaccine coverage increased from 72% to 86% worldwide. (One dose of MMR vaccine is 93% protection against measleswhile two doses have 97% protection).
But in 2020, as COVID-19 pandemic Hit, coverage fell to 83% and, in 2021, it fell to 81%, according to the MMWR. Global coverage rose to 83% in 2022 as some countries recovered from the setbacks of the pandemic, but in low-income countries vaccination rates continued to fall.
From 2019 to 2021, “coverage in low-income countries fell from 71% to 67% and then to 66% in 2022,” the MMWR states. Of the 22 million children who missed their first dose of the MMR vaccine in 2022, more than half live in 10 countries: Angola, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines .
“The lack of recovery of measles vaccine coverage in low-income countries after the pandemic is a warning signal for action,” Dr. Kate O’Brien, the WHO director of immunization, vaccines and biological products said in the statement. “Children around the world have the right to be protected by the life-saving measles vaccine, no matter where they live.”
Worldwide, coverage with the second MMR dose was 74% in 2022. Coverage with both the first and second doses must reach 95% to protect communities from outbreaks, according to the CDC.
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