Stories by Peter Hotez

Expert Voices

Global disease risk worsening as anti-vaccination campaigns spread

A doctor injects a vaccine to a baby on October 31, 2017 in Quimper, western France.
A doctor prepares to administer a vaccine to an infant. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP via Getty Images

Vaccine coverage continued to decline in parts of the developed world last year, resulting in 60,000 measles cases in Europe — the most this century — and a record number of pediatric flu deaths in the U.S. In several Western U.S. counties, up to 30% of children have not received their full vaccine schedule — a trend that's been worsening since 2009.

The big picture: This drop-off in vaccinations owes primarily to parental exemptions for non-medical reasons, typically because of false beliefs that vaccines cause autism or illness. There are signs the anti-vaccine movement's misinformation campaigns will strengthen in 2019, leading to further declines in vaccine coverage and possibly more outbreaks of infectious disease.

Expert Voices

Most countries with highest childhood autism rates lack resources

Data: Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The latest findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) show 4.57 million children under five living with autism, or about one in 138 kids. The largest numbers of young autistic children live in developing or low- and middle-income countries, including over one million children each in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, while the highest rates of childhood autism are seen in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa.

Why it matters: So much of the dialogue surrounding autism is focused on the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe that we often forget much of the world's childhood autism is concentrated in regions where health resources are limited.

Expert Voices

Why the U.S. faces a growing risk of epidemics

A family physician prepares a measles vaccine during a consultation on April 16, 2018 in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
A physician prepares a measles vaccine. Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

A changing picture has emerged of the U.S.' susceptibility to epidemics of infectious diseases over the next decade — driven by organized anti-vaccine activity and the lack of incentives to develop new or more effective vaccines, along with inadequate mosquito control measures.

The big picture: Reducing the risk of new epidemics will require expanding the use of existing vaccines, especially for measles and seasonal influenza, as well as introducing new vaccines for any vector-borne or zoonotic diseases that emerge.

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