A panel of experts fear that the delay in polio vaccinations because of the pandemic can lead to another polio outbreak.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) stated that the Americas must still maintain polio vaccinations and surveillance, even amid the pandemic as this would also help in preventing an outbreak of the disease.

PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said that although as a region, polio was already defeated once, she still warned that if the vaccination coverage rates are allowed to fall or become too low, the community will be at risk of seeing more cases of polio. She emphasised in a press release the importance of doing one's share to "protect and sustain" the elimination of polio in the region.

Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, head of PAHO's Immunisation Program stated that while the region has already once overcome polio, everyone must still work hard to ensure that another outbreak does not happen despite the existence of the current pandemic, else, what has been previously gained by the region in its fight against polio could be lost.

PAHO stated that for the Americas, the polio vaccine coverage between 2016 and 2019 was between 85 to 87 percent. For 2020, they expect it to be lower due to the pandemic, considering that there was a disruption in health care.

Delay in vaccination is just one of the effects of the pandemic. Previously, doctors have already seen how patients avoided going out or going to public places, which is why the number of routine checkups and even preventive checkups among patients were delayed.

Many cancer patients missed seeing their physicians. As a result, there was delayed treatment and there were also those who failed to receive an early diagnosis, simply because they did not bother to go for a checkup. Screenings for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer were also delayed, causing undue worry among physicians.

A previous report noted that the breast surgery chief at Nuvance Health, Dr Susan Boolbol, expressed how there was a rising number of patients who were not going for the required health screenings due to fear of getting infected with coronavirus the moment they step out of their homes.

The doctor cited a study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which indicated that medical experts have seen a drop in the diagnosis for the most common types of cancer. These include pancreatic, esophageal, breast, colorectal, and gastric cancer.

Pandemic caused delay in polio vaccinations. Photo: Pixabay