COVID-19 Will Lead to Surge in Measles Deaths

Global vaccination programs have halted amid the pandemic.

Reuters (“The world risks a surge in measles deaths with 100 million children set to miss out on vaccines due to the coronavirus“):

The world is at risk of a surge in measles deaths, with around 117 million children set to miss out on their measles vaccine this year due to the international coronavirus lockdown, according to the World Health Organisation.

Measles vaccine programmes have already been halted in 24 countries since the coronavirus pandemic began, the WHO said in a statement on Tuesday.

The halt to vaccine programmes, which the WHO expects to soon be extended to 13 more countries, comes after a recent international resurgence in the disease.

“Despite having a safe and effective vaccine for over 50 years, measles cases surged over recent years and claimed more than 140,000 lives in 2018, mostly of children and babies – all of which were preventable,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Against this already dangerous backdrop, preventive and responsive measles vaccination campaigns have now been paused or postponed in 24 countries to help avert further spread of COVID-19.”

The global chief of immunization at Unicef, Dr Robin Nandy, told the Telegraph last month that the UN agency has paused its vaccination programmes because of concerns about increasing the spread of the coronavirus.

“We do not want to contribute to the COVID problem through immunization programmes, so we are recommending that all campaigns are temporarily suspended as they bring a lot of people together. We don’t want to do any harm” he said.

He added, “It would be inappropriate for us to recommend a campaign when the government is ordering a shut down as it would be impossible to conduct it at the right time.”


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. KM says:

    Not just children – people like me are at risk too. The shot doesn’t take in everyone and some folks are immunocompromised. Social distancing will help keep outbreaks down for now but we’re going to see a huge upswing in illness coming. If we’re extremely unlucky, we’ll see a mutation that renders the current vaccine ineffective.

    Anti-vaxxers are about to get their wish. They want a world without vaccines. Well, look at what’s happening when we don’t have one we need. We’re all compromised by COVID-19 and look at the damage it’s doing. The *ONLY* reason they feel safe enough to whine about the MMR and other shots is they’ve already had them – they don’t unconsciously fear for their own safety and don’t believe anything bad is going to happen to their child. They despise the protection they’ve been given and want to deny it to others. Be careful what you wish for, folks – you really don’t want to get it.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    In late January I received the first shot of the new shingles vaccine with instructions to comeback in 2-6 months for the second. I tried that the other day and not surprisingly, I was told to get away old man, we’re not doing that now. Since I don’t see this situation changing for a while, I’m wondering if I’ll ever get that shot or will need to start the regime over again.

  3. Tyrell says:

    @KM: I well remember my experience with measles. I was in first grade, it was spring. I had to stay out of school for two weeks. The first week was in a dark room because one effect was that it makes eyes very sensitive to light. Second week was go anywhere except school. So that would have been a couple of movies, parks, mountains, and Gettysburg: anywhere that was not crowded. My biggest gripe was that I missed the end of year school picnic fun day. After that I think I missed two days of school in eleven years: I have not had a fever since third grade, and seldom a sneeze or cough. The only procedures have been a few mole removals and two rhinoplasty procedures: they don’t put you to sleep for that.
    I read an article few years ago that my immunity can still be transferred to others. I did not quite understand that.

  4. DrDaveT says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    In late January I received the first shot of the new shingles vaccine with instructions to comeback in 2-6 months for the second.

    My wife and I are a little better off; we got ours the first week of March, just before things closed down. I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back for part 2 on schedule — though part 1 did a job on me. (My wife was fine; side effects wouldn’t dare…)