Although routine immunization for other pre-existing infectious diseases is generally maintained in most countries, there is evidence that COVID-19 virus adversely affects these activities. There is a reasonable risk that further outbreaks of other existing infectious diseases will override health systems already struggling with the effects of COVID-19.
“As the world strives to develop a new COVID-19 vaccine at record speed, we must not risk losing the fight to protect everyone and everywhere against other vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr Tedros, WHO Director-General.
Concerning the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing clinical research on five different vaccines for the COVID-19 virus. The worldwide pharmaceutical industry is focused on the invention and production of therapies and vaccines for COVID-19. Negotiations with regulators are ongoing on the possibility of reducing the legislation that needs to be respected by the time the vaccine is used. There are also problems in transferring vaccine production technology to other pharmaceutical centres, and in need of quality control of vaccine production.
At the same time, there is an increased risk that the COVID-19 pandemic will consequently affect the development of other epidemics. Research on nearly 20 million children worldwide indicates that more than 1 in 10 has missed additional measles, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccinations, and approximately 13 million children have never received these vaccines. Most of these children live in countries with already fragile health care systems, which limits their access to basic health services when they become ill. Measles remains a threat, especially if the immunization rate is reduced. Current projections indicate that as many as 800,000 people could be infected with the disease, and there is even greater concern about another resurgence, especially if the percentage of clefts is reduced by delays or suspension of planned immunization activities as a result of COVID-19. Additional outbreaks of polio, diphtheria, and yellow fever are also of concern. Specifically, global coverage for Polio immunization is still far from the 95 per cent coverage needed to fully protect communities from a preventable epidemic of this disease. The future availability of vaccines with a longer period of immunization against the Poliovirus, for which research has been conducted before the onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic, is still out of reach.
Although worldwide supply availability has been largely maintained so far, the longer the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, the greater the risk of reaching critical supply levels. At the service level, however, potential supplies can be foreseen due to reduced supply or disrupted distribution. Furthermore, there are indications of diminished demand for vaccines in some countries due to lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals, declining visits to health centres, psychological factors (eg fear of infection, false rumours) and lack of communication, coordination and specific community involvement on COVID-19. answer.
As the response to COVID-19 continues, health systems need to take additional action on immunization to reduce the possibility of outbreaks of other infectious diseases and new losses of life. These include the provision of emergency epidemic programs in places where services are disrupted, the provision of strong supply chains, disease surveillance and trained health professionals. The new WHO Immunization Guidelines and COVID-19 recommend that temporary immunization campaigns be suspended where there is no active epidemic of a vaccine-preventable disease. However, it is urged that priority be given to continued routine immunization of children, as well as adult vaccination, as in the case of influenza, for the groups at highest risk. If immunization activities are to be discontinued, vaccination should be compensated as soon as possible, favouring those at the highest risk.