Categories
Foundations Gates

The Gates Foundation’s 2021 Report Shows That Childhood Vaccinations Dropped During the Pandemic—But There’s a Bright Side

This time last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation warned of a grim potential side effect from the COVID-19 pandemic: its disruptions to routine medical care could erase 25 years of progress on childhood vaccination, setting back global health by decades. The 2021 installment of the foundation’s annual Goalkeepers report, which details progress on…

This time last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation warned of a grim potential side effect from the COVID-19 pandemic: its disruptions to routine medical care could erase 25 years of progress on childhood vaccination, setting back global health by decades.

The 2021 installment of the foundation’s annual Goalkeepers report, which details progress on 18 metrics related to global health, equity and sustainability, contains some good news and some bad news. Childhood vaccination rates have suffered during the pandemic—but only about half as much as the Gates Foundation originally predicted, signaling that many countries were able to restore regular medical services faster than expected.

In 2020, 30 million children around the world—10 million more than in an average year—missed appointments for routine vaccinations, such as those that protect against measles, diphtheria and pneumococcal disease, according to estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation included in the Goalkeepers report. That translates to about a seven percentage point dip in routine vaccinations—not great, certainly, but considerably less than the expected drop of 14 percentage points.

“I still don’t want to understate it,” says Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. “It takes us back to 2005 levels. That’s still a loss of 15 years of progress.”

But, Suzman says, it’s encouraging that countries around the world were able to maintain supply chains and resume distribution of vaccines for diseases other than COVID-19. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in June 2021 found that, across 10 U.S. jurisdictions, administration of routine childhood shots fell by up to 70% in early 2020 compared to previous years—a harbinger of a potential public health catastrophe on top of COVID-19. But the situation improved toward the end of 2020, as many medical centers resumed normal care.

It was still not enough to make up for the dismal drop earlier in the year, but ongoing recovery efforts can still make a difference. “The great thing about vaccines is you can catch up,” Suzman says. “That’s where we hope we can still see some continued improvements and make up that lost ground.”

Aside from vaccination, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed or halted progress on many of the goals tracked by the Gates Foundation. The pandemic has pushed an additional 31 million people worldwide into extreme poverty, and about 13 million fewer women are expected to be employed throughout this year compared to 2019. (Employment levels among men, by contrast, are projected to return largely to pre-pand

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *