Are rising Covid cases, a cause for worry?

Surjith Karthikeyan | Updated on: Jun 08, 2022
Following Covid-appropriate behaviour is vital

Following Covid-appropriate behaviour is vital | Photo Credit: ALY SONG

Status of vaccine-preventable diseases globally may guide us in Covid management strategy

Covid-19 waves with variants of less severity are now being reported in India. With daily cases at around 3,000 , the key issue is: Should we be panic, or move on by following Covid appropriate behaviour. Assessing the present status of various vaccine-preventable diseases globally may enable us reach a logical conclusion in this regard

Measles, for instance, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among children affected by rubeola virus. The World Health Organization’s 2018 data show that 131 countries were still affected by it with 16 countries having cases above 5,000. The countries most seriously affected include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine, Pakistan, Madagascar, the Philippines, India, Yemen and Brazil, with cases above 10,000.

Mumps, a common childhood infectious viral disease, is manifested by inflammation of salivary glands. WHOdata show 85 countries still affected by it with 10 countries reporting cases above 10,000. China reports more than half of the cases globally followed by Nepal, Burkina Faso, Japan and Ghana.

Pertussis is another major disease, with 114 countries still affected by it and 22 countries having cases above 1,000. The worst affected nations include China, India, Germany, Australia, Japan and the Russian Federation with cases above 10,000, followed by few South Asia and South-East Asian countries.

Japanese Encephalitis is a viral infection belonging to the Flavivirus genus. WHO data (2018) reveal 13 countries still affected with five having over 100 cases. The most badly affected countries include China (1,800), India (1,707), Vietnam (313), the Philippines (204), and Myanmar (126). This disease is mostly prevalent in South India and affects children below 15 years age, especially in rural areas.

Diphtheria is an acute disease caused by exotoxin-producing Corynebacterium diphtheria. The WHO report shows 43 countries still affected, with 22 having cases below 10 or equal to 10. The countries most seriously affected by it include India (8788), Yemen (2609), Nigeria (1,870), Indonesia (1026), Venezuela (775), Pakistan (413), and Nepal (232). India has been increasing the coverage of immunisation against it with 80 per cent coverage in 2015-16.

Poliomyelitis affects children below five years of age. In 2019, the WHO reported only 33 cases due to coordinated eradication efforts globally. India eradicated it in 2010 wherein the last reported cases were 44. Seven countries reports significant number of cases with Nigeria (34) followed by Papua New Guinea (26), Democratic Republic of the Congo (20), Somalia (12) and Niger (10).

Total rubella is another major disease wherein WHO 2018 data show 96 countries still affected by it with 25 having cases above 100 or equal to 100. The countries most seriously affected include Nigeria (4,772), China (3,990), Nigeria (130), Japan (2,947), India (2328), and Indonesia (1,767).

Tetanus, still a major issue

Tetanus is another major health issue in developing countries, including India, with significant morbidity and mortality due to reasons which include incomplete vaccination. The WHO 2018 data show 87 countries still affected by it with 20 countries having cases above 100 or equal to 100. The countries most seriously affected by it include India (7,000), Uganda (1,049), Sierra Leone (971), the Philippines (943), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (792).

Yellow fever is another acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. WHO data (2018) reveal 22 countries still affected by it with Brazil (1,307), Chad (416), and Mali (225) having cases above 200.

Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) affects infants through maternal infection from rubella virus during pregnancy. WHO data show 21 countries still affected by it with more reported cases in Indonesia followed by Bangladesh, Pakistan and Cambodia.

The inference from the status of these globally existing vaccine-preventable diseases is that we should learn to live with Covid, following Covid-appropriate behaviour. The need of the hour is a global consensus on its acceptable disease burden, devising comprehensive and appropriate approach to tackle the same, which may include disease management protocol, checking transmission level, etc.

The writer serves as Deputy Secretary, Government of India. Views expressed are personal

Published on June 08, 2022
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

You May Also Like

Recommended for you