At least one good news story came out of the World Economic Forum, which wrapped up in Davos, Switzerland, last week. Gavi, which launched in Davos in 2000 to get subsidized vaccines to those most in need, estimates it has helped immunize ~700 million from diseases including polio, cholera and measles—potentially averting 10 million deaths.
Still, about 1 in 10 children miss out on vaccines that should be routine, like those protecting against diphtheria and hepatitis B. As health disparities rise, many of those in need now live in middle-income countries, disqualifying them for aid.
With Gavi and other programs leaning heavily on the US and bilateral organizations for funding, that poses a threat. "In a world of populism, there is nervousness about whether it will get re-funded," said Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan.
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California anti-vaxxers are getting a boost from an unexpected ally: doctors willing to take money to write unnecessary medical exemptions.
The state’s closure of the “personal belief” exemption 3 years ago encouraged vaccine advocates like Peter Hotez of Texas Children’s Hospital Center. “One thing that never occurred to me was that physicians would write phony medical exemptions,” Hotez said.
Up to 20% of kids in some schools have medical exemptions, California’s Department of Public Health reports. And vaccination coverage in some counties has slipped below 90%, the threshold to achieve herd immunity.
Hotez hopes state medical boards will step up to shut down the practice.