The WHO claims that 110,000 children around the world died from measles in 2017—but the total could be wildly inflated, says medical researcher Peter Johnson.
The total is more to do with guesswork and in-built biases than actual science, he says.
The WHO is using two factors to arrive at the total measles deaths: a country's total of infant deaths and its MMR take-up rate. In regions of the world that have low take-up, WHO researchers have assumed that infant deaths are more likely to have been caused by measles.
This assumption is causing statistical anomalies, such as reporting 28,474 measles cases in South-East Asia in 2017—and 35,925 measles deaths.
Furthermore, 107,000 of the 110,000 deaths occurred in the world's poorest countries, suggesting that poverty is more likely to be the real cause, and the figures are also not taking into account the improved strategies for dealing with measles cases, such as the administering of vitamin A, which, again, makes the disease less likely to be the killer.