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Global News

2017.05.02

Vaccine shortage threatens polio eradication campaign

An international campaign whose aim is to eradicated Polio started in 1988.This campaign has seen over 2.5 billion people vaccinated –nearly all the children .The paralyzing disease has been reduced to 99% with 3 countries –Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, which are still home to Wild polio out of the original 125 countries . This campaign has had numerous challenges since its inception with the latest being the announced global vaccine shortage. On Friday 28th, 2017 while in Geneva, Switzerland during immunization week, the World Health Organization urged countries to resort to smaller, fractional doses to stave off outbreaks of polio.

“We do have a problem with the vaccine in the sense of not having enough of it,” Alejandro Cravioto, head of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), told reporters in a telephone conference.

“But the recent evidence that we reviewed shows that even if we give a smaller dose of vaccine under the skin instead of inside the muscle, we can have the same impact of protection as before,” he said.

SAGE, which advises the UN health agency on immunization policies, called for two smaller doses of the vaccine to be injected under the skin at six and 14 weeks after birth, instead of a single, larger intermuscular dose. This makes it possible to “reduce the volume” of vaccine administered, WHO senior health adviser Philippe Duclos said. He went ahead to note that there have been “problems” in the production, adding that the stocks of the vaccine should be fully replenished by the end of 2018.

French group Sanofi and Serum Institute of India make the main vaccine used to combat polio- the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). For long-term effects, WHO recommends that the OPV should be phased out worldwide and be replaced completely by IPV. The WHO experts on the same day hailed progress towards eliminating wild polio transmission but warned that even after the disease has been eradicated it is necessary to continue mass-immunization with the IPV vaccine to avoid a resurgence of the polio virus.

Related links
・Polio this week as of 25 April 2017
・WHO urges polio vaccine dose cut amid global shortage