Study shows benefits of routine vaccination ‘far outweighs’ COVID-19 child death risk in Africa

The coronavirus pandemic has heavily burdened the health care sector across the globe and the African countries are particularly at high risk.

Health experts have claimed that continuing regular immunisations against diseases such as measles and yellow fever for children in Africa would far outweigh the risk of infant deaths from COVID-19.

The experts have said that because of disruption of medical supplies and health services worldwide, as a result of the pandemic, the affordable vaccines too could not reach the needy resulting in them becoming more vulnerable to preventable diseases.

Researchers based in Britain and Switzerland have created a mathematical model that simulated the spread of COVID-19 for all 54 countries in Africa so as to assess the extent of the risk to child health. The research, published in the Lancet medical journal, focused on the impact of vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, flu, measles, rubella and yellow fever among others.

“The benefits of routine childhood immunisation in Africa are likely to far outweigh the risk of additional COVID-19 transmission that might ensue, and these programmes should be prioritised as far as logistically possible,” said Kaja Abbas, joint lead study author from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“Routine immunisation programmes are facing enormous disruption across the globe due to this pandemic,” said Tewodaj Mengistu, study co-author from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Switzerland.

“Lockdowns make it harder for vaccinators and parents to reach vaccination sessions, health workers are being diverted to COVID-19 response, and misinformation and fear are keeping parents away,” Tewodaj Mengistu added.

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