GUEST HOST: Tamara Ugolini
As the world slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical lobby and its global partners are calling for "The Big Catch Up" - a campaign to mass vaccinate children who missed their routine childhood vaccinations.
This effort is led by major organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
During the height of the pandemic, health systems worldwide focused on battling COVID-19, which resulted in a significant decrease in routine childhood vaccinations.
Many clinics were closed for in-person visits, and parents were hesitant to bring their children to healthcare facilities for fear of contracting the virus. This, the experts claim, led to a decline in vaccinations for diseases like measles and polio.
Interestingly, a report from the US-based non-profit organization Health Choice found that child and infant deaths were at an all-time low during the initial months of the pandemic. The report, titled "Lessons from the Lockdown – why are so many fewer children dying?", suggests that the decline in vaccinations might have played a role in this trend.
As we move into a post-pandemic era, the focus is shifting from COVID-19 to other public health concerns. Recently, the WHO declared that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.
This announcement has paved the way for organizations like the pharmaceutical lobby to promote their "Big Catch Up" campaign.
Despite the declining number of measles and polio cases in recent years, these organizations argue that low childhood vaccination rates could lead to a resurgence of these diseases.
However, critics question whether mass vaccinations are truly necessary, especially given the potential links between reduced vaccinations and lower child mortality rates during the pandemic.
Prominent figures like Chelsea Clinton, the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, have voiced their support for continued pandemic emergency powers and increased focus on childhood vaccinations.
At the Fortune's Brainstorm Health Conference, Clinton discussed the need for rebuilding public trust in health institutions.
The "Big Catch Up" campaign is slated to last 18 months, but skeptics argue that this effort is driven more by Big Pharma's profit motives than genuine concern for children's health.
It is crucial to question whether mass vaccination campaigns like "The Big Catch Up" are truly in the best interest of children's health or if they are merely a means to pad the pockets of major pharmaceutical companies.
As we navigate the post-COVID era, it is essential to critically examine public health messaging and prioritize the well-being of children over the interests of Big Pharma.
An honest and transparent conversation about the benefits and potential risks of mass vaccinations is necessary to ensure the health of future generations.
GUEST: Dr. Byram Bridle Associate Professor of Viral Immunology in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph.