Warning of an infectious disease recording high cases around the world Warning of an infectious disease recording high cases around the world

Warning of an infectious disease recording high cases around the world

Warning of an infectious disease recording high cases around the world

A series of measles warnings have been issued across Australia in recent weeks, and the US and UK have also faced larger measles outbreaks.
In fact, the World Health Organization reported a 45-fold increase in measles cases in Europe last year, with 42,200 cases recorded in 2023 compared to 941 cases in 2022.

In South Asia, India and Pakistan recently reported outbreaks.

What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if an infected person comes into contact with ten unvaccinated people, he can infect nine of them.

It may take about ten to 12 days for symptoms to appear after a person is exposed to the virus.

Although measles is characterized by a rash, symptoms are usually similar to a cold at first, including fever, runny nose, fatigue, and pain or red eyes. The rash appears after two or three days and spreads from the face to the lower body.

Sometimes measles can lead to secondary infections such as ear infections, diarrhea, or pneumonia. In rare cases, it can cause encephalitis.

In severe cases, measles can lead to hospitalization and death.

Vaccination is a very effective strategy to protect against measles. Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

Once vaccinated, the chance of contracting measles is very low and a person is considered protected for life.

However, about one in 100 vaccinated people may develop measles if they are exposed to the virus. Although it is not entirely clear why this happens, infection in a vaccinated person is generally mild.

Globally, there has been a decline in childhood vaccinations over the course of the Covid pandemic. This is likely due to a combination of factors including declining confidence in vaccines, misinformation and disrupted access.

In Europe, the proportion of children who received a first dose of the MMR vaccine decreased from 96% in 2019 to 93% in 2022, and from 93% to 91% for the second dose.

This is important because approximately 95% vaccination coverage is needed to achieve herd immunity against measles. 

In the United Kingdom, health authorities have expressed concern about the number of children who have not been vaccinated.

As of September 2023, the Australian Government reported immunization rates for all childhood vaccinations of 93.26% for one-year-olds, 91.22% for two-year-olds, and 94.04% for five-year-olds. 

It's never too late to get vaccinated against measles if you missed it as a child, or aren't sure if you've had two doses, according to experts. If you are not sure about your vaccination status, you can ask your GP or check your vaccination record.

A "controversial" Alzheimer's drug has been withdrawn from the market

Biogen has announced the withdrawal from the market of a controversial Alzheimer's drug, hailed as the first-ever treatment for cognitive decline associated with the devastating brain disorder.
The US Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to Aduhelm in June 2021, in a decision that was largely controversial at the time because the agency overruled its own independent advisers, who found there was insufficient evidence of benefit from the drug.

At least three of the 11-member independent committee that voted unanimously against recommending the drug resigned, and US congressional investigators criticized the rapid approval as “riddled with irregularities.”

Biogen said it was discontinuing Aduhelm to devote more resources to Leqembi, a new Alzheimer's drug that was fully approved last year under the traditional regulatory route.

Aduhelm, a monoclonal antibody that targets the buildup of amyloid beta protein in brain tissue that is believed to be the cause of Alzheimer's disease, has been tested in two late-stage human trials.

It showed a reduction in cognitive decline in one study, but not in another.

According to a December 2022 congressional report, the FDA “had considered Aduhelm within the traditional approval pathway used for most drugs for nine months, before abruptly changing that and granting approval under the accelerated approval pathway after a three-week review period.”

The report said the FDA's interactions with Biogen were "atypical" and included a failure to properly document communications between agency staff and the drug manufacturer.

He added that the FDA and Biogen "cooperated inappropriately" in a joint briefing document for the key advisory committee.

As for Biogen, the report said that the company “views Aduhelm as an unprecedented financial opportunity, and estimates peak revenue potential at $18 billion annually.”

The congressional committee cited an “unjustifiably high price” for Aduhelm of $56,000 per year for patients.
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