The WHO and UNICEF reported yesterday that the impact of Covid-19 restrictions had led to a sharp fall in routine childhood immunisations across the world. Their research found that “disruptions in the delivery and uptake of immunisation services caused by the Covid-19 pandemic” had seen 23 million fewer children receive core vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, and measles — diseases which, unlike Covid-19, are fatal for children.
The WHO’s “new research” actually underestimates the scale of the war against children’s health that their own pandemic policies have promoted. A report published by Collateral Global three weeks ago found that “pandemic restrictions substantially reduced the delivery of immunisation services in at least 68 countries affecting over 80 million children under the age of one”. That’s right: in the all-consuming debates as to the ethics of vaccinating children with Covid vaccines whose Phase 3 trial data will not be completed until the end of 2023, vaccinations against diseases which children are actually at risk from have fallen off a cliff.
So how did Covid restrictions lead to a collapse in vaccination rates? Two recent articles by doctors from Angola and Mozambique spell out the realities. In Angola, vaccination coverage fell sharply as soon as the country entered lockdown, caused by, among other things, a diversion of health resources — all this in a country which as of today has recorded a total of 951 Covid-19 deaths. In Mozambique, fuel shortages precipitated by the economic crisis produced by Covid restrictions meant that vaccination teams could not access rural communities.
Thus millions of children are now at risk of dying from childhood diseases that until 2020 were treated routinely. Their well-being has been jeopardised, too, by the Covid-induced economic collapse, and funding shortages for other treatments caused by the tunnel focus on Covid-19. And all because the WHO with the support of many world leaders are engaged in a global “war on the virus”.
The WHO’s own charter defines health broadly, as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The “mental and social well-being” of children? So what about the Chilean schoolchildren who have had four weeks of in-person classes since March 2020? Or the Colombian kids whose schools finally reopened on 8 July? And who’s going to spell out to all those British children who are self-isolating (as many as 250,000) that all this disruption is good for their health?
When the dust of this pandemic finally settles, future historians will reflect on these things for what they are: atrocities against children. One can only hope that the damage, though severe, will not be permanent. After all, the world’s youth have suffered immensely during this pandemic — it is high time that we recognise it.
Toby Green’s book The Covid Consensus: The New Politics of Global Inequality is published by Hurst. His most recent work is: “The WHO and COVID-19: Re-establishing Colonialism in Public Health”, coauthored with David Bell