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COVID-19: ‘Vulnerable… should not suffer added burden of vaccine-preventable diseases’

EU and covid-19

4 May 2020

European Union partners in ‘pledging marathon’ to raise funds to make Covid-19 vaccine universally available.

Muriel Cozier

Today, 4 May 2020, the European Commission is joining partners from around the world to kick start a global pledging effort  to raise funds which will be used to help accelerate the development and deployment of universally available and affordable covid-19 vaccination, treatment and diagnostics. The initial goal is to raise Euro7.5 billion, but the intention is to raise more so that health systems around the world can be strengthened.

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen commented; ‘Our objective is to raise money and to launch unprecedented global cooperation between health organisations and all relevant partners…’

The Commission’s event follows on from World Immunisation Week, which was held over the final week of April. The WHO said that the main goal of the 2020 campaign was to urge greater engagement around immunisation globally and highlight the importance of vaccination in improving health and wellbeing of everyone.

Stressing the importance of immunisation Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe said ‘The health and/or economic consequences of this pandemic are affecting everyone. The most vulnerable, who are often left behind by immunisation services, should not suffer the added burden of vaccine-preventable diseases.’

Highlighting the need maintain a focus on immunisation, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has said that a total of 13 200 measles cases were reported by the EU/EEA countries and the UK during 2019. In addition, around 1000 cases of measles were reported during the first two months of 2020. While the data does show a decline in cases compared with 2017 and 2018, it is still much higher than the number of cases observed during 2015-2016, that being  4000 and 4600 respectively. In addition the number of cases at the start of 2020 is lower when compared with the same periods during the past three years.  Data also indicated that during   2016 - 2019 approximately half of measles cases were seen in those aged 14 years and above.

Despite the decline, the ECDC said the fact that measles cases continue to occur across the EU/EEA shows that vaccine coverage in many countries is suboptimal. A risk assessment, published during 2019 concluded that ‘The risk of continued widespread circulation of measles in the EU/EEA in the near future is high and that, with the continued importation of measles cases between the EU/EEA Member States, the disease is a serious cross border threat to health in the EU/EEA.’

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