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Pan American Health Organization: Nearly 1.5 million cases and 19,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Americas
November 19, 2020
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November 19, 2020

Time to ramp up immunization, says Pan American Health Organization, as other diseases steal in behind COVID-19

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Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2020. 5:25 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The supranational focus on the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed a few old foes to make a comeback, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned this week.

Assistant Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa noted that vaccination rates continue to fall in the Americas and have been impacted by COVID disruptions, with a decrease in demand for vaccination services. “This year, 9 countries in the Region of the Americas reported a total of 8,479 cases of measles, including 8 deaths, and 5 countries reported 56 cases of diphtheria, including 16 deaths. Both of these diseases are fully preventable with vaccines,” he said.

Dr. Barbosa told reporters that, “We must make the most of the life-saving vaccines that are already available, to prevent other outbreaks of severe diseases such as polio, measles and others.” He noted that PAHO is working closely with governments to review their immunization programs, share regulatory information and strengthen their cold chain capacity to ensure a smooth and quick rollout of new COVID-19 vaccines when they are approved.

PAHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have already kicked off the purchasing process for COVID-19 vaccines by inviting vaccine manufacturers around the world to apply to become a supplier for the 186 countries that have joined the COVAX facility. This aims to deploy 2 billion doses of the vaccines globally, with a priority of protecting health workers and those at high risk of severe disease. Barbosa also noted that there are 11 potential COVID-19 vaccines in advanced trials.

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