Romania 2017: A real-life example of what happens when the anti-vaxxers win

In the midst of one of the most controversial medical dilemmas of modern times, it is important to investigate the obvious trends in a fair, yet consistent manner. It is becoming clearer, when we consider the reality of the situation, that vaccination is not only prudent, but it is also the only viable way in which to treat the populations of the world in an effective manner. In order to demonstrate the necessity to vaccinate, one should consider the plight of Romania in great detail.

Romania has been a country with a very high vaccination coverage until recently. In 2012, for example, the nation experienced the clearest occurrence of such high levels of coverage. However, in 2017, they are experiencing a massive outbreak of measles. It is reported that there are over 6600 infected citizens during the past year. Furthermore, there have been 30 reported casualties. The basic question that sheds light on this travesty is the simplest question;

 

How did this happen?

In short, the antivaxxers lamented about the horrors of vaccinations. Their apparent victory has led us to the obvious consequences. Romania had 94% MMR coverage in 2012, when a massive antivaxx campaign started, led by a famous local TV couple, Olivia Steer and Andi Moisescu and supported by some religious groups (link). The coverage started to fall, to 89% in 2014 and 83% in 2015. The estimate for 2016 is under 80%, even 70% in some regions in the west. Those are exactly the regions that are hit the hardest by this epidemic.

Although Romania may be the most topical example at present, this epidemic has spread to other European countries. In the current records, Italy has experienced almost 3000 cases (which have led to more than 1000 hospitalizations). Belgium and the Czech Republic are trying to cope with over 100 cases each. There are also deaths reported from Portugal, Bulgaria and Germany (700 cases in total). The startling point to be made from these reports is that this is a huge increase from previous years. The increase is so large that it leaves little, if any, room for coincidence, if we are honest.

 

Falling vaccination rates are the cause

So, how can we be sure that this isn’t just a coincidence, and that those who lobby on the side of antivaccination should be found culpable for the negative legacy that they have created? One only needs to take a look at the case distribution to find further evidence:

Romania – 97% of those infected, and all of the deceased, can be traced from the unvaccinated population.

Italy – 89% of the infected were not vaccinated, and 6% received only one dose.

Bosnia and Herzegovina – As they are not in the EU, statistics cannot be independently declared to be exact. Notwithstanding, they have experienced more than 5.000 cases since 2014, with over 550 hospitalizations. Unfortunately, any data on vaccination status or fatalities is unavailable at present.

Europe as a whole – Of all of the known cases associated with vaccination status on the continent (6133, that we are aware of, up to April 2017), 88% were unvaccinated, 8% were vaccinated with one dose, 3% were vaccinated with two or more doses, and 1% were vaccinated with an unknown number of doses. Of all cases, 7% had an unknown vaccination status.

Most of the victims come from the risk groups, they could not be immunized due to their age or medical condition. For example, in Romania, 12 babies under the age of one, (they were too young for the MMR vaccine) fell victim to associated diseases. Among the other examples one could find a case of a young woman with HIV. In addition to this, there were cases involving children with various co-morbidities. In Portugal, a prime example is that of a teenager that had a medical contraindication (allergy), but was otherwise healthy. In Germany, a mother of three, age 37 died. A 10 month old baby died in Bulgaria. In Switzerland, a young man whom had leukaemia succumbed to disease.

 

What was the response from the antivaxxers?

Did they accept their responsibilities in the face of these facts? Of course not. They now claim that the virus was spread by the vaccinated masses (which is false, as the genotypes are different). They maintain that measles is still a harmless disease because all of the victims were “already very sick” (well, they weren’t) and would have died from a simple cold (not only false but a preposterous claim to make). There is, of course, one more explanation popular amongst the supporters of antivaccination; that this epidemic was spread intentionally (an incredulous conspiracy theory).

They will never accept the reality, don’t expect it.

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