SAVO PRELEVIC via AFP
MEASLES – An outbreak which worries worldwide, but which should (relatively) spare France. On April 27, WHO and Unicef issued a new alert on the explosion of measles cases in the world. The number of cases jumped 79% in the first two months of 2022 compared to last year.
Some 17,338 measles cases were reported globally in January and February 2022, compared to 9,665 in the first two months of 2021. But the numbers are likely higher, as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted surveillance systems.
Africa is the continent most concerned with a 400% increase in cases over the first three months of the year (especially in Somalia, Nigeria and Ethiopia), but countries in the eastern Mediterranean, Afghanistan or yet Yemen are also concerned.
“There may therefore be small outbreaks in France”
The WHO warns of the risk of “absolute disaster” if the dangerous delay in the vaccination of children due to the Covid-19 pandemic is not caught up and if health restrictions are lifted too quickly. The two UN agencies also fear that these epidemics are a harbinger of epidemics of other diseases which spread more slowly, such as polio or yellow fever.
Should we be worried about this situation in France? “There is no acute risk of a large epidemic. Vaccination coverage in France is significant, although lower than what is necessary to prevent any circulation”, explains to the HuffPost Pierre-Yves Boelle, epidemiologist and modeller at the Sorbonne University and at the Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health.
“There may therefore be small outbreaks leading to a few thousand cases per year, with regional disparities corresponding to the disparities in vaccination”, he adds, specifying that it is “as always” important to continue to promote the vaccination.
Public health France
Increase coverage to 95% in infants
“The vaccination coverage would be 93.4% for one dose in children born in 2020 at 21 months, and 84.9% in children born in 2019 at 33 months”, explains the HuffPost Pierre-Yves Boelle.
The researcher refers to the latest bulletin from Public Health France for this month of April, which specifies that vaccination coverage against measles, mumps and rubella has increased by one point since 2018. “If there have been delays linked to Covid, these did not prevent a progression of vaccination”, adds the researcher. “She might have been bigger without Covid. If there were delays, it seems that these have been caught up”.
Public health France
“However, these vaccination rates remain insufficient,” he continues. “It would take 95% at 2 doses to prevent circulation. As we are below, there are occasional increases in cases (a few thousand per year) but at intervals of several years”, he adds, underlining the resurgence of cases in 2008-2011 visible in the graph above. “Among the 3,000 cases described in 2018, there were 3 deaths, i.e. a lethality of 0.1%, undoubtedly overestimated, because not all cases are declared”, he nuances however.
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