Good News: India Is Polio-Free
Multiple sources are reporting a welcome development. India is well on track to be declared officially free of polio:
CHANDIGARH: India will complete three years without any polio case on Monday. The last polio case was reported on January 13, 2011 from West Bengal. Three years is the gestation period for the WHO to declare a country polio-free. Although the three year period finishes today, the WHO certification will take a month or so.
RK Saboo, founding member of the Polioplus programme, said, “We have achieved this milestone after perseverance and consistent efforts. However, we will not get complacent. The polio drops will be replaced by the injectable IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) next year in the high risk states.” As IPV is not a ‘live’ vaccine and is an intramuscular injection it carries no risk of vaccine-associated polio paralysis, he said here on Sunday.
If India is actually free of polio it leaves only a handful of countries in which the disease, which when I was a kid was responsible for the paralysis or deaths of a half million people worldwide every year, continues to prevail. That includes, notably, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Tajikistan, the Russian Federation, Angola, Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a few other places, particularly where there is cultural resistance to vaccination.
A great achievement. .
So, we’ve got twenty years before Indians start doubting the effectiveness of vaccines because some model fell for some snake oil salesman’s pitch?
It is an actual shame the CIA used a vaccination program in Pakistan as cover to get Bin Laden’s DNA. Waziristan is now openly killing people sponsoring vaccination drives and Pakistan will continue to harbour this virus.
Personal Plug: Maternal and Neonatal tetanus–a disease so prevalent its makes appearances in the bible (the old part too)–is on track to disappear within the decade.
Regardless of what Jenny McCarthy might say, mandatory vaccination works.
Happen to be in India at the moment and saw this in the news. The downside is that NPAFP (Non-polio acute flaccid paralysis) is dramatically higher than it has been. Considering NPAFP is almost entirely impossible to differentiate from polio outwardly (I believe it requires a lab test to differentiate), this is quite concerning.
Depending on who you listen to, this is either because authorities have been extremely vigilant in measuring every case that looks like polio in recent years to make absolutely certain that no cases of polio were missed. Or because the polio vaccine has been administered in higher dosages in recent years to make sure that everyone received enough (since it can be difficult to make sure everyone gets the dosages when they’re supposed to, so you increase the frequency and amount to make sure that everyone does get covered) and that is causes NPAFP. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh seem to be hit the hardest with NPAFP as they were also the primary areas for polio recently and the areas that were focused on for vaccination. Of course, the news being the news, its tough to tell whether they are hit the hardest because they are the largest states (Uttar Pradesh by itself has 200 million people, Bihar is 100 millionish), or because cases of NPAFP are happening there at a higher rate than the rest of the country.
Another big government success…
Most likely it’s both. The biggest push for polio eradication has been from Rotary International and the Gates Foundation, who have coordinated with UNICEF for the outreach. UNICEF tends to err on the side of extreme caution when running vaccination programs, meaning they over vaccinate to ensure that the entire affected population is secure.
The WHO are the ones who verify eradication. They are extremely, extremely diligent–and have more than a few times yanked defeat from the jaws of victory–it’s the only way to ensure once it’s declared eradicated, it’s truly eradicated.
I would concur that I assume that both play a factor. Its entirely impossible in general in the news to tell, and the news in India certainly isn’t any better in that regard.
Regardless, its worrying that the number of NPAFP cases last year was 50k+, at a rate of 12 per 100k children compared to a WHO benchmark of 2 per 100k children.