Only this was not enough for us! We will not have time to move away from the second, and maybe at that time already the third wave of COVID-19, as measles, tuberculosis and other no less dangerous diseases will come to visit us. This is not yet an accomplished fact, but an assumption that, nevertheless, is shared by many epidemiologists.
So, the other day, the deputy head for science of the Novosibirsk Research Institute of Tuberculosis, Yakov Schwartz, said that a new epidemic would come after the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, the world expects an unprecedented increase in the incidence of tuberculosis. Similar statements were also made by specialists from the main health department. The WHO fears that by the end of 2020 Europe will be flooded with Koch’s sticks, around the world in the next 12 months this disease will claim an average of hundreds of thousands more lives than usual.
In 2019, 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis. “If doctors and people do not pay attention to tuberculosis, the predictions of specialists may come true even earlier than originally anticipated,” experts fear.
What do tuberculosis and coronavirus have in common? And how could the current pandemic affect the incidence of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases?
Mycobacterium has existed in the human environment for many millennia, but its activity and mutations depend on many things. Including on the state of immunity, as well as on how tuberculosis is amenable to antibiotic treatment.
Everyone knows that for the last six months the world has been sitting tightly on antibacterial drugs, antibiotics of the latest generation cannot be obtained in pharmacies, they are prescribed for almost all courses of coronavirus infection, where necessary and not necessary, most often without making backpasses to find out if a bacterial infection.
At the same time, everyone knows that the virus cannot be treated with such drugs, but they are still prescribed. Antibiotics are included in all protocols. “By the way, this situation is most often common in Russia, where these medicines can be freely purchased in pharmacies, and people often prescribe them to themselves – here the neighbor had a coronavirus, and she was prescribed such pills, which means that I will drink them, worse- it will not be, our citizens think so, – one of the doctors agreed to comment on the situation at MK. – You can also understand the sick: there are not enough doctors, not enough tests. That is why they grab onto the last straw, not realizing that in a couple of years it will come back to haunt with resistance, that is, immunity to absolutely any drugs even when they could help, and what are we going to do with you? “
Russia is still among the 20 countries with the worst tuberculosis situation in the world. And also one of the leading three, where the number of patients with resistant forms of tuberculosis is growing (together with us, India and China). True, in the last 10 years the situation has begun to improve: the incidence and severity of the disease has decreased. But what awaits us all after the end of the pandemic?
Two years ago, in 2017-2018, an unprecedented measles outbreak rocked Ukraine. There were also deaths, which is rather strange, since this infection is considered defeated in the world.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine justified that the exacerbation was predictable and cyclical. And they explained it by the low vaccination coverage of modern children. But if for babies this ailment is not so dangerous, then in adults it is possible, including death. On the one hand, it is good that the infection in most cases occurs once in a lifetime and immunity remains forever (which cannot be said about coronavirus, for example), but on the other hand, measles contagiousness is extremely high: not 2-3 people can infect one patient, as with COVID-19, and 15-18 people.
Over the past 15 years in the countries of the former USSR, in the same Ukraine, three epidemic rises in measles with periodic cycles of 5-6 years were recorded: in 2001, 2006 and 2012. During these periods, the incidence increased by tens and hundreds of times.
“So that the epidemic does not break out again, it is necessary that at least 90% of the population in the country be vaccinated, then herd immunity will work against the disease,” the doctors say. In Ukraine, in 2016, only 45% of children were vaccinated, and even less were vaccinated again, only 30% of babies.
Now attention: due to the pandemic in several countries, vaccination against measles has been temporarily postponed this year. 2-3 years have passed since the last measles cycle. There are only two left.
Experts from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne cited the lack of routine vaccinations for children due to restrictive measures, an increase in poverty due to a decrease in economic activity, and a reduction in social assistance among the predisposing factors for the outbreak in these difficult times.
“Scientists speculate that the overlooked by the global spread of the coronavirus and the associated restrictive vaccination measures against measles in children could lead to an outbreak of this highly contagious viral disease,” said study lead author, SAGE team leader, Institute professor Kim Mulholland. “Unvaccinated children are almost 100% likely to have a measles epidemic next year.”
The professor clarified that the past 2020, despite its apocalypticism, remained one of the “quiet” in relation to measles, mainly due to the measures taken to isolate, a sharp decrease in population mobility. But what awaits us in 2021?
To maintain human immunity, the living conditions in which a person exists are very important. To have a roof over your head and decent food. Now, one more very important factor has been added to all this – stress.
– There is even such a study: as a rule, outbreaks of infectious diseases occur in some difficult periods. For example, there was a period of defaults, in the 90s, when people lost their jobs. And in parallel there was an outbreak of measles. This is all cause and effect, the fact that people are nervous now and start to get sick, ”experts say.
Under such conditions, the measles epidemic sooner or later becomes inevitable. And it may come even earlier than expected.
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