In view of high immunisation coverage, risk of polio infection from contaminated vaccine is minimal, say WHO-UNICEF in statement
In a statement issued this morning, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF have reiterated India’s status as a polio free country. The statement comes in the wake of recent reports of polio virus “contamination” in polio vaccines in some parts of the country.
“Certified polio-free in March 2014, India continues to remain vigilant against all three types of polioviruses. The last polio case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on 13 January 2011. Type 2 poliovirus containing vaccine has been phased out globally, and in India, in April 2016, as a part of the polio End Game strategy. As elsewhere, bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) has replaced the trivalent OPV (tOPV) in all polio campaigns and routine immunization in India,” the statement said.
Traces of Polio II virus in some vials of bivalent (protects against polio I and III) polio vaccine had triggered panic. The statement clarifies what has been a grave fear among public health experts in India and around the world. There are only only countries in the world currently where polio in endemic. These are our neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan which is why India needs to be constantly vigilant.
In view of high routine immunization coverage in India under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), the risk of children getting vaccine derived poliovirus is minimal. All vaccines provided under the UIP are safe.
The WHO-UNICEF statement added: “Recently, Type 2 polio vaccine virus was found in some sewage and stool samples. The detection of Type 2 vaccine virus demonstrates a robust polio surveillance system jointly managed by the Health Ministry, WHO and partners. A team of Indian Council of Medical Research, Drug Controller General of India and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare investigated the matter. A few vials of bOPV, supplied by one manufacturer in India, were found to contain traces of Type 2 polio vaccine virus.”
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare withdrew the vaccine supplied by this manufacturer from all states.
As advised by the India Expert Advisory Group, India continues to conduct mass vaccination campaigns against polio, using bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), to maintain high immunity against polio. Two nationwide campaigns and a sub-national campaign have already been conducted in 2018. As a part of efforts to maintain high immunity against all polioviruses, India provides inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and bOPV to all infants across the country under routine immunization.
WHO said that in view of high routine immunization coverage in India under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), the risk of children getting vaccine derived poliovirus is minimal. All vaccines provided under the UIP are safe.