New Reports Link Oral Vaccines To Polio Cases In Africa

New Reports Link Oral Vaccines To Polio Cases In Africa

Polio is a disease caused by the poliovirus. The disease can spread from person to person through food or water. But recently,  there have been reports of a link between oral vaccines and polio cases in Africa. Unfortunately, people now get polio by taking the oral vaccine. As a result, there are new cases of people getting paralyzed by the poliovirus they got through the vaccine. Surprisingly, the vaccine was made to prevent poliovirus infections.

Reports of a link between oral vaccines and polio cases in Africa.

Reports of a link between oral vaccines and polio cases in Africa.

According to a report by WHO, Four African countries have reported cases of people getting polio by taking the oral vaccine. The four African countries are Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic and Angola. Meanwhile, similar cases have appeared elsewhere in Africa, Asia and Pakistan.

Polio vaccines contain a weaker form of poliovirus. A bit like getting infected with the disease and using the weaker form of it to find a cure. So, there's always the chance of things not going according to plan. Since the introduction of the polio vaccine, it has worked well around the world. But scientists have always known that cases of people getting infected from the vaccine are possible. This is because there is a possibility of the live virus in the oral polio vaccine mutating into a form that can cause new outbreaks.

oral vaccines and polio in africa

Across those African countries, the people who were infected by poliovirus through the vaccine only got it through the oral dose. But authorities have continued to rely on the oral form because they're cheap and easily administered. However, the oral vaccine is not used in western countries. They use the more expensive version that can't cause polio.

How To Eradicate Polio

How To Eradicate Polio

To completely remove polio, 95 per cent of a population needs to get the vaccine. Usually, poliovirus strikes children under 5, spreading easily through food or water. The virus can make a person become paralysed, or even die from breathing problems. About one in 200 infections result in paralysis. Hence, there have been aggressive measures in areas where poliovirus is still present. The target had been to end polio before the year 2000. Having failed, deadlines have since been shifted since then.

However, a deadline has been set for the recent outbreak of polio caused by the vaccine. The goal is to stop all vaccine-derived outbreaks within 120 days of detection. But according to an Independent Monitoring Board, officials were “failing badly.” The group described the WHO's initial attitude as “relaxed.”

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Nytimes

Written by

Lydia Ume