Measles Deaths Increase Significantly

November 12, 2020
John Parkinson

CDC and WHO Data shows a 50% increase worldwide from 3 years ago.

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, 207500 worldwide deaths were attributed to measles last year, showing a dramatic increase of 50% from 3 years prior.

This is a marked departure of not only mortality but in reported cases as well. There was a historic low in reported cases in 2016 and a 556% increase in 2019. Annual reported measles incidence decreased 88%, from 145 to 18 cases per 1 million population during 2000–2016; the lowest incidence occurred in 2016, but by 2019 incidence had risen to 120 cases per 1 million population.

“We know how to prevent measles outbreaks and deaths,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, WHO director-general, said. “These data send a clear message that we are failing to protect children from measles in every region of the world. We must collectively work to support countries and engage communities to reach everyone, everywhere with measles vaccine and stop this deadly virus.”

The authors of the report cite a failure to vaccinate children on time with two doses of measles-containing vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2) as the main reasons of these increases in incidence rates and mortality.

For 2020, reported measles case are lower, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disruptions in vaccinations have led to the inability to prevent and minimize outbreaks of measles this year. In fact, over 94 million people worldwide were at risk of missing vaccines. Twenty-six countries have paused their vaccine campaigns and only 8 have resumed their campaigns.

“Before there was a coronavirus crisis, the world was grappling with a measles crisis, and it has not gone away,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, said. “While health systems are strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not allow our fight against one deadly disease to come at the expense of our fight against another. This means ensuring we have the resources to continue immunization campaigns for all vaccine-preventable diseases, even as we address the growing COVID-19 pandemic.”