Worldwide measles deaths climb 50% from 2016 to 2019

17 November 2020

Article: 54/4605

Measles surged worldwide in 2019, reaching the highest number of reported cases in 23 years, as highlighted in a report written by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which finds measles cases worldwide increased to 869,770 in 2019, the highest number reported since 1996 with increases in all WHO regions. Global measles deaths increased by almost 50% since 2016, claiming an estimated 207,500 lives in 2019 alone.

After steady global progress from 2010 to 2016, the number of reported measles cases climbed progressively to 2019. Comparing 2019 data with the historic low in reported measles cases in 2016, the report suggests a failure to vaccinate children on time with two doses of measles-containing vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2) may be the main driver of these increases in cases and deaths.

Although reported cases of measles are lower in 2020, necessary efforts to control COVID-19 have resulted in disruptions to vaccinations and crippling efforts to prevent and minimize measles outbreaks. As of November, more than 94 million people were at risk of missing vaccines due to paused measles campaigns in 26 countries, with many of these countries experiencing ongoing outbreaks. Of countries with postponed planned 2020 campaigns, only eight (Brazil, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines and Somalia) resumed their campaigns after initial delays.