WHO Worries on Delaying Immunizations of Children Due to Coronavirus Impediments

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), stated on Monday, April 27, 2020, that the coronavirus pandemic was “far from over” and is likely to continue the further disruption of health services across the globe. The chief of the UN health agency put concerns about the virus impact that forced to delay providing health services especially life-saving immunization for children in the poorest countries.

Disturbing Immunizations of Children

Although some wealthier nations witnessed a decline in the numbers of the virus-infected cases, the UN agency is still concerned because of the rising deaths and infected cases in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and some Asian countries. Citing the emergence of new virus cases across the globe, the Director-General of the WHO declared in a virtual news conference in Geneva, “We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do,” insisting that the second wave of infections could be prevented with the right actions.

A highly contagious disease, COVID-19, which erupted last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has caused major disruptions on the international immunization processes. Tedros put concern that the health services such as vaccination programs for other diseases of children had been canceled due to the virus impact. The WHO’s chief projected, around 13 million children had been affected worldwide by delays in regular immunizations against diseases including polio, measles, cholera, yellow fever, and meningitis.

Tedros explained, “Children may be at relatively low risk from severe disease and death from COVID-19 – the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus – but can be at high risk from other diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.”

Shortages of Children’s Vaccines

Citing the report from GAVI global vaccine alliance, Tedros said that the shortages of vaccines against other diseases were reported in 21 countries due to governments’ policies on border restrictions and putting a ban on travel prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. He added, “The number of malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa could double,” referring to the potential impact of COVID-19 on regular malaria services. Meanwhile, the chief of the WHO insisted, “That doesn’t have to happen, we are working with countries to support them.”

A WHO’s expert, Dr. Mike Ryan was putting concerns on the relaxing of coronavirus imposed restrictions in the US despite a lack of the poor handling of the virus situations and health crisis by the government. Ryan also repeated an earlier WHO warning against easing restrictions too soon.

However, Ryan made a statement saying that the US seemed to have a “very clearly laid-out”, science-based federal plan for fighting its coronavirus epidemic. He added, “The federal government and the system of governors are working together to move America and its people through this very difficult situation.” Nonetheless, he viewed that the federal efforts to link up 50 states would make the situation “complex.”

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