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Amidst an unremitting pandemic, we have become amatuer virologists. Let's now summon our collective spirit and wipe measles from our planet. Why measles? Well, it is a dreadful and deeply impactful infection. First, it kills over 200,000 children every year. Those who survive infection often subsequently experience profound “immune amnesia” that puts them at increased risk from other infections. All of this can be prevented through safe and effective measles vaccination. It is unconscionable that more children worldwide are now dying from measles than in nearly a quarter-century. Second, thanks to our current pandemic, shared interest in virology and vaccine awareness is robust. Many of us now view vaccines as our collective salvation for both individual health and our global economy. What an exceptional opportunity! So let’s vaccinate for measles while we all care about viruses. Third, global cooperation is improved, we are better able to rapidly detect measles outbreaks, and inhaled measles vaccines have been shown to be safe. A global eradication campaign based upon these elements has the potential to eradicate measles once and for all. Finally, a persistent, humanitarian call to action over decades has helped surface the pitfalls and illuminate the road to success, as demonstrated through the thoughtful and strategic eradication of smallpox that culminated in 1979. During those heady, optimistic years the US Center for Disease Control set a four-year goal to eradicate measles in the United States by 1982. We collectively came close: the measles incidence in the United States fell to nearly zero. Since that time, the global incidence of measles has rebounded vigorously. Worldwide, there were more cases of measles in the first six months of 2019 alone than in any full year since 2006. We now need to arrest our backward slide by using novel, highly sensitive technology to track regional outbreaks and innovative inhaled vaccine delivery approaches to more easily and rapidly increase herd immunity. Let’s step up, act decisively, and eradicate measles forever to save millions of lives over the coming decades.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Sievers, Benjamin, "Measles Eradication: Let's Root Out Measles, Ring-vaccinate Hotspots, and Eradicate this Deadly Scourge Forever" (2021). 2021 Claremont Colleges Library Undergraduate Research Award. 1.