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The Entire World is Getting a New Polio Vaccine This Month

In the final push to end polio, global health planners are embarking on an unthinkably ambitious and potentially risky move. They’re switching 155 countries—a good portion of the world—from one polio vaccine to another.

An Afghan health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child in Kabul. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the last two countries to see polio outbreaks.
An Afghan health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child in Kabul. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries with polio cases this year.
Photograph by SHAH MARAI, AFP, Getty

This will require moving millions of doses of a new vaccine into place over the course of two weeks in late April, while sequestering the remaining stocks of the old one.

And that’s only one of the many maneuvers necessary to truly end polio, which in the 1980s caused more than 350,000 cases of paralysis a year. So far in 2016, there have been only nine cases in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The vaccine switch is part of the final strategy to put a noose around the few remaining cases, by improving the match between the viruses that remain in the wild and the vaccine that suppresses them. If it goes as planned, it will improve children’s immunity to wild-type polio while removing their vulnerability to a variant of the disease that can be accidentally caused by the vaccine itself.

It looks like the goal is in sight. But polio has slipped from control before.

“This is the largest, the fastest, and [a] unique event that is taking place,” Dr. Michel Zaffran, the director of polio eradication at the World Health Organization, said in a phone call with reporters Thursday morning. “This is an unprecedented event that has never been done before in the world.”

After almost 30 years of trying, the move has the potential to finally stop any new cases of polio from occurring. But planners acknowledge that the move carries some risk: It could accidentally ignite an outbreak of the type of polio caused by the vaccine.

“We are anticipating there will be at least one event we will have to respond to,” said Dr. Steven Cochi, who serves as a senior liaison between the eradication campaign and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shots or Drops?

To understand the complexity of this, it helps to remember a little history. The start of the effort to control polio, back in the 1950s, was a competition between two scientists: Jonas Salk, who developed an injectible vaccine using killed virus, and Albert Sabin, who formulated a vaccine taken by mouth that relies on living but weakened polio.

Salk’s vaccine ended up ruling in the industrialized world. But Sabin’s became the foundation of the international eradication campaign, not just because it can be administered even by people with no medical training, but because, as the virus gets into the gut and attaches there, it produces copies that pass out of the body in feces and create immunity in anyone else who picks it up.

That strength turned out to be a weakness, because as the live virus reproduces, it can mutate from its weakened form into a virulent disease-causing type, and cause polio in any of those nearby who would otherwise have been protected when the vaccine virus was shed. Last year, when there were only 74 cases of polio in the world, 27, more than a third, were caused by what is called “vaccine-derived” virus.

Polio virus comes in three “types,” or strains—known for simplicity as types 1, 2 and 3—that are different enough from each other that they all must be included in the vaccine. Type 2 is the most efficient at attaching to the gut, and partly because of that, it became the first strain to be eradicated; it has not been seen in the wild since 1999. But for the same reason, it is the strain most likely to cause vaccine-derived cases. So the new vaccine being rolled out on Sunday deletes the Type 2 weakened virus.

Why Change All at Once?

That substitution will only work if everyone in the world who is using oral polio vaccine, or OPV, switches at the same time; if one country continued to use the three-type vaccine, it could put others at risk. So beginning this weekend, thousands of volunteers and monitors will fan out, across the developing world and also in industrialized societies such as the Russian Federation which are still using OPV, to make sure the new vaccine is delivered on schedule and, crucially, kept cold as it goes.

To reduce the vulnerability inherent in the switch, as many countries as possible were supposed to give children one shot of the injectable vaccine, known as IPV, to make sure their immunity was as high as possible. But planners acknowledged Thursday that there is a shortage of IPV, and not all children may have received the protective dose.

Most people stop shedding the vaccine virus in two to four weeks; that, Cochi said, is considered the window of vulnerability post-switch in which an outbreak might spark. There are also rare cases in which people with immune-system disorders hang onto the virus and shed it for years; since they are not made sick by it, they are very hard to spot. (To find them, some countries screen sewage for the presence of polio.)

Will This Cause an Outbreak?

Hypothetically, a long-term shedder carrying mutated type 2 polio virus could ignite an outbreak at any time. But Zaffran said, with unusual frankness, that in the countries that would be most vulnerable, immune-deficient children often do not live long; and in the countries where good medical care sustains their lives, immunization rates are already high enough to make the possibility of an outbreak null.

Nevertheless, Cochi said that to keep any potential outbreaks from spreading, stockpiles of the old oral vaccine will be kept on hand in each country, and million of doses of a new, Type 2-only vaccine are ready for emergency deployment if needed.

Planners hope the giant vaccine switch is the beginning of the endgame of eradication. It is late—they thought they would get to the goal 16 years ago—and each delay has been costly. The next steps will also be expensive and complex: first rolling out IPV across the world, and then scouring laboratories for any forgotten frozen samples that might harbor the polio virus.

But in the end, if they are successful, polio will become the second human disease eradicated from the world.

Earlier on Phenomena:

51 thoughts on “The Entire World is Getting a New Polio Vaccine This Month

  1. How come, that Sanofil (früher Aventis Sanofil) is not mentioned ? The WHO wanted to have Polio eradicted by 2010 , but all the troubles in the world delayed the program. The troubles may block the program completely. Religion is the gratest enemy !

    1. Not all religion is bad, each person can have their own beliefs. I once was a Wiccan, (was Wiccan?). And I came across some people who are all about natural everything. They almost get psychotic about it. And I think those people are more to blame for Whooping Cough and Polio immunization problems. In their fanatical quest to be “clean” (Vegans included) have decided to be against immunizations and using Autism as a reason. Now true Autism, I have no problem with. But now “Autism Spectrum Disorder” seems to me to be the new diagnosis du’jour. In 1990’s it was ADD, then they all were ADHD. Now they are back to ADD/ADHD are two different conditions. Anyway, Autism is being used to tout that immunizations are bad.

      1. Don’t forget that Baxter (or was it Baxley?) pharmaceuticals once combined live swine and bird flu viruses and shipped them to Finland. They told them it was already tested and they didn’t need to bother. They did and discovered they were actually live viruses. This wasn’t an accident as it is impossible to have that happen accidently. This was several kilos of vaccine, and was supposed to be used for the entire country. No thanks on vaccines for me. Oh yeah, nothing was ever done about it.

        1. Jim, Why are you posting lies, when the truth can be so easily found. The incident you point to, was an accident. It was investigate thoroughly, and found to be so. Sure, there are those like you who continue to make wild and crazy accusations, but I think we know ignorance, when we see it.

  2. The world will be sure a far better place for us and for our future generations if this plan works. which I hope will work. No religion in its true sense want people to suffer in any way but it is always the either the wrong interpretations or personal benefits of few people to take the advantage of common folks’ ignorance to misguide them.
    Education and educating on the large scale is the only long term solution to all human ailments.

    1. As more education we get, as more we distance ourself from the animalistic behaviour.
      Clio Cresswel on You Tube with “Mathematics and Sex” can be an eye opener.

  3. As a parent of a child Mariam Fadayel who got this deadly disease from her first vaccine when she was only two months old and passed away at age seven, I have been working hard to see a stop to this deadly vaccine OPV that has killed more than thousands of kids like Mariam around the world . Leaderle was the vaccine manufacturer that has made billions of dollars in profits from these kids misery and they paid the ultimate price …..their precious life so that a company can make profit . The only Polio that a person can get comes from this live Oral Polio Vaccine. THIS WAS A DEADLY VIRUS THAT LEFT OUR BABY PARILIZED FROM THE NECK DOWN …..IT KILLED ALL HER MUSSELS INCLUDING HER BREATHING MUSCLES AND HER SWALLOWING MUSSLES AND ALL HER MOTOR MUSSLES ……THIS DECISION TO STOP USING THIS DEADLY VACCINE WAS WAY OVER DUE BY FIFTY FIVE YEARS ……WE WERE LIED TO BY THE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION AND THE C D C AND OUR DOCTORS AND NURSES WHO HID THIS TRUITH FOR WAY TOO LONG , AND ARE ALL TO BLAME FOR THIS FAILED POLICY .MARIAM ONLY SAID HER LAST GOOD BYE WHEN THE CDC MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO STOP USING THIS DEADLY VACCINE IN THE U S A BACK IN 2001 . Thank you Mariam for your ultimate sacrifice to put a STOP to this Deadly Policy and GREED !

    1. Too bad there isn’t an ignorance filter, on this blog.

      Madra, What does your comment have to do with Polio eradication? This is not about you.

      Victor, Very sorry to hear of the loss of your child, at only 2 months of age. The likely possibility is that it wasn’t the vaccine, but direct contact with Polio in the enviroment, whether it be lack of proper sanitary systems, or transmission for a carrier (infected person). You children can be the most vulnerable. It is things like this, that necessitated the move from oral vaccine, to injectable vaccine.

      What everyone should be asking themselves is whether it is more dangerous not to be vaccinated. Polio is highly contagious.

      Except for Pakistan and Afghanistan, polio has been eliminated. It is very rare to hear of a polio vaccine associated infection. Billions of children have been vaccinated. There have been only a very few problems.

      Roslyn, How absolutely dishonest, of you. Your statements are 100% lies, deliberate lies.. I am not sure why you want to continue to see children being stricken with paralytic Polio? The only reason we do not have any more smallpox, is the smallpox vaccine. Why not tell us where you got your medical degree, otherwise, you’re just one more evil person trying to keep people sick. How very mean.

  4. Glad there aren’t any side effects at all to this vaccine. Perfectly harmless with all-natural ingredients for a quick, healthy innoculation, right?

    1. Yes, Neo, there are most definitely “side-effects”! 10 billion children did not get polio, and now, only 2 countries are endemic of polio. You probably feel this isn’t fair to the people who make crutches and wheelchairs.

    1. I would guess that McKenna is referring to smallpox [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dm79sp.html].

      MM: Yup, sorry to be absent. First-ever disease eradicated was smallpox. Second was rinderpest, a cattle disease. If polio is eradicated it will be the third-ever and the second human disease for which that has happened.

      1. Gern, Repeat your ridiculous out-of-text statistics, all you want. With each repeat, you become more and more dishonest.

        10 Billion children have been vaccinated with the OPV. Here is a quote from GPI:

        “Episodes of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus are rare. Between 2000 and 2011 – a period in which more than 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine were given worldwide – 20 cVDPV outbreaks occurred, resulting in 580 polio cases. In the same period, wild poliovirus paralysed over 15 500 children.”
        http://www.polioeradication.org/polioandprevention/thevirus/vaccinederivedpolioviruses.aspx

        Another way to read this: Out of 10 billion doses of OPV, there were 580 vaccine-derived cases. That’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent. But, at the same time, 15,500 UNVACCINATED children got paralytic polio. If you understand the odds clearly, leaving a child unvaccinated is reckless.

    2. I think it’s smallpox but I could be wrong. And I didn’t realize that we’ve only eradicated one disease- that fact suprised me!

      I’ve also never heard of an oral vaccine before. Very interesting, I’ll have to look up more info on it.

      Learning new things everyday, thanks NG!

      1. It was smallpox, but that very vaccine has been accused of creating AIDS as the researchers were using monkeys to make the vaccines. This switched the SIV into HIV. There is a documentary done by a coalition of international journalists who have put together a pretty good case. In fact, the documents of those who did the vaccine work provided much of the evidence. So, one disease eradicated and a worse one created. Good job science! By the way, science is amoral, so all of you idiots blindly cheering it on are as idiotic as the religious fools you mock.

        1. Jim, Who (name names) accuses smallpox vaccine researchers for creating AIDS? You say, journalists have put together a “case”. Point us to the published “research” from these journalists, that has been peer reviewed and published in respectable science/medical journals. Last time I checked, journalists were………journalists.

          1. Actually, it was polio. I just looked up the documentary name (if you want to know things you might learn how to use a search engine. It took me 20 secs max) it is “The origins of AIDS. It was made by a group of news agencies. If the vaccine debacle was an accident (the Finland one) then that company has the crappiest security measures in history. It should be impossible for them to do so. I never claimed the world was full of evil plots. I am a history major, that is just a matter of fact. If you had an ounce of real intelligence, rather than the arrogance of normal death dealing doctors, you would know this simple fact. Now go and take a handful of thorazine. That’s better.

          2. Dear Dr. Robert S. Steinberg, your title demands, that you treat your partner with respect and that you answer professionally. I notice, that you ignore your title. You treat your parther with your feet.

            Please take 2 hours and study the full documentary on You Tube about “The Origin Of AIDS” (1:29:50)
            There are so many contradictions, that one must ….
            Jim has all the knowledge to doubt the pharma. Try to understand him.

            Sincerely Christian

            I know, that the WHO has choosen the polio culture from the Pasteur Institute because it was the purest of all and showed no contaminations.
            With Bioengineering (Wald, Switzerland) I helped to build the bioreactors for Aventis Sanofil.
            I believe in science but I know, what money is capable of.

    3. Never. Science always promises, but never delivers. Their faults are ours. Just because they have proven themselves ignorant, time after time; they always still insist they are gods. Pretty shitty gods if you ask me.

  5. It is bizarre how easily people accept the science/medical experiment of vaccination.

    And since science/medicine has never eradicated any disease the claim that Polio would be the second is untrue. If the suggestion is Smallpox was eradicated, think again. For one thing it was well in decline long before mass vaccination programmes and for another, it still exists as MonkeyPox. When science wants to play smoke and mirrors it just changes the name of the disease. The same thing has happened with Polio.

    The solid evidence is that the major factor in reduced disease, epidemics and mortality was been and remains improved sanitation, hygiene and nutrition but of course the profits for the pharmaceutical vaccination industry are far greater than profits involved in providing optimal sanitation and hygiene.

    Anyone who thinks injecting a mix of artificial and synthetically concocted disease, along with a host of chemicals, toxins, additives etc., into the body of a human being, bypassing the first lines of immune response, in ways impossible in nature, designed to trick and confuse the body’s immune response, is going to be good for anyone is deluding themselves.

    Vaccination will go down in history as the greatest and most destructive medical experiment in human history, responsible for epidemics in our children of Cancer, Diabetes, Autism, Asthma, Allergies, Coealic Disease, Auto-Immune Disease, behaviour and learning difficulties and more.

    The vaccination age has created generations of children with vastly greater levels of serious and chronic disease in ways never seen before in recorded history.

  6. Rotarians and Rotary International, began the worldwide push to end polio, in 1985, promising Rotary would wipe out polio. Rotary quickly attracted partners, like WHO and others, eventually creating the Global Polio Initiative. Rotary continues its commitment, energizing our partners to fight polio until it is wiped off the face of the Earth.

  7. “it can mutate from its weakened form into a virulent disease-causing type, and cause polio in any of those nearby who would otherwise have been protected when the vaccine virus was shed. Last year, when there were only 74 cases of polio in the world, 27, more than a third, were caused by what is called “vaccine-derived” virus.
    more than a third, were caused by what is called “vaccine-derived” virus.
    more than a third, were caused by what is called “vaccine-derived” virus.
    more than a third, were caused by what is called “vaccine-derived” virus.

  8. Christian Duerig, I did a Google search, and found the article. It’s not scientific, just accusations.. The reason we still have wild polio virus circulating in 2016, is ignorance and lies. Accusations like yours, are pure fabrications and out and out not the truth. Why do you want to hurt people?

    I don’t care what a bunch of biased “journalist”, have to say, unless they provide scientific proof, which they cannot, nor can you. .You are so very dishonest in pushing your fairy tales. How about finding a “journalist” the next time you need an infection treated? If you have any further “information” post the URL. Otherwise, don’t waste our time.

    1. Dear Dr. Robert S. Steinberg,
      your behaviour is that of a lobyist of the pharma branch.
      I asked you to study the full documentary on You Tube “The OriginOf AIDS”, (1:29:50).
      Do not ask me to present a prove, that there was wrong doing, when the documentary tells us, how the involved scientists contradict them-self.
      The catastrophe may well be man made !
      Please study the doc on You Tube.
      Sincerely Christian

    2. Dear Dr. Robert S. Steinberg,

      there is even a more disturbing documentary on You Tube concerning AIDS. You will find it with “The Truth About AIDS” (1:28:57)
      Here you learn, that AIDS is politically defined.
      You have to study the video, to get ride of your arrogant behaviour.
      Sincerely Chrisitan

      PS I know that it is not about POLIO !!!

      1. Christian, You definitely live in a fantasy world. Unlike you, I study the science. There is no support for your conspiracy theories, except from people like you, proving the point, ignorance is bliss.

        1. Dear Dr. Robert S. Steinberg, I do not live in a fantasie world. I listen what scientists report. In the documentaries which I have mentioned, there are even Nobel prize winners, who tell, what the situation is. It would be good, if you woul listen to those scientist as well. They do know more than podiatric medicine.
          I hope, that you drop your arrogance.
          The scandals in the pharma branches do exist. Quality control and certification is misused.
          James Burke says: “Put your money were your mouth is.”

      1. Christian, Thanks for the link. It reaffirms my opinion that the accusations are baseless and without scientific proof. But, you know what, you can live your life denying the science. Thank G-d, there are very few people like you, in positions of leadership.

        1. Since you know everything, why don’t you get a job? By the way, you are full of shit on your critique of the documentary. The journalists used the scientists own journals to state their case. You are either a troll or an idiot. As if there is a difference.

          1. CHRISTIAN, …………Ignorance, perpetuated by people like you, is the only reason we are seeing preventable diseases, still killing children. The video you pointed to, is filled with zealots who need to get noticed.

            JIM,….. No it’s not that scientists don’t deliver.It’s people like you. Your very existence, depends on science that makes it possible to feed billions of people, and it depends on science to prevent things like the Plague, Small Pox, Chicken Pox, Measles and Polio and other diseases. It is science that provides us with sanitary disposal of waste and drinkable water.

      2. Christian, While you would like to re-write history,,,,,, and support others who would do the same, the Internet is filled with conspiracies. There is no end to those who would like to manipulate scientific research. Thankfully, there is real science to disprove what people like you, are saying.
        http://www.theaidsinstitute.org/education/aids-101/where-did-hiv-come-0
        http://www.snopes.com/medical/disease/aids.asp
        http://www.scripps.edu/discover/hiv-aids.html

        1. Dear Dr. Robert Steinberg, bevor you say something, you should reflect about the consequences of you statements. You make yourself a fool. Please do not work with the word “conspiracy” and accusing other of practicing conspiracy. I myself studied Mathemstics and Physics. I am not a historian and by no way that person, which you imagine. You are a fool !
          You could not be bothered to watch the video (1:28:57) “Truth About AIDS”, a Documentary on You Tube.
          At 0:02:10 speaks Kenneth Cole, Chairman of the amfAR
          At 0:02:17 speaks Robert C. Gallo MD, Director, Institute of Human Virology
          At 0:02:22 speaks Reinhard Kurth MD, President, Robert Koch Institute, Germany 1996-2008
          At 0:02:29 testifyied Martin Delaney
          At 0:02:50 speaks Michael Gottlieb MD, First doctor to diagnose AIDS, UCLA Medical Center 1980-97. He mentioned: “There will never be a cure for AIDS”.
          Probably Gottlieb knew, that there is no illness with all those properties, which “define” today AIDS.
          Today, there are definitions of AIDS which contradict other definitions of AIDS.
          As you follow the documentary, you even meet medical professors, which deny AIDS. You will learn that AIDS is a political definition.
          Where are all the sciences gone ?
          Whatever Dr. Koprowski really has practiced in the Kongo, … only he knows. He has been cought contradicting himself. He has been lying. He has lost all confidence to be accepted as a scientist.
          Nobody can prove scientifcally, that … Dr. Koprowski is ….
          Dr. Koprowski has wipped out all traces of his research in the Kongo. His behaviour is the reason, why you, dear Dr. Robert Steinberg uses the word “conspiracy”.
          I myself enjoy Math & Physics, struggle with Einstein’s Field Equations of Gravitation, have email-contact with Pavel Greenfield, who induced the Renaissance of the Tensoranalysis. The results from LIGO have a much greater impact of humanity than AIDS.
          There is real Science in Mathematics and Physics. I follow John Horton Conway, Gilbert Strang, Ramamurti Shankar, Leonard Susskind, Frank Wilczek, David Gross, …
          I do not practice conspiracy. I go my way and logic is my compass. I calibrate my navigation with my professors (Conway, Strang, Greenfield, Shankar, Susskind, Wilczek, Gross, … & Mayo)

          What do you do, dear Dr. Robert Steinberg ? Do you serve the coffee at 09:00 AM ?

          Mayo Fuura is a Japanese professor in literature. She is a spezialist in MANYOUSYU. Just yesterday her daughter Yoshino send me an email with an attachement of a newspaper showing her mother.
          I did some research with Google about MANYOUSYU and discovered Japanese history. I started 3000 years BC. The Jomon Period, Yayoi, Tumulus, … all included the Azuka. Today “Ayuka” is a place name. Everything is so interesting that I dicided to learn Japanese. Today I master allready 20 Hiragana characters. I will master all 46 by the end of the week. Next project: Mastering the characters from Katakana. I hope to speak Japanese next year.
          I will drop AIDS competly.
          Bye bye dear Dr. Robert Steinberg
          The Internet ist super, wonderful, marvelous, constructive and very helpful. Google is doing a great job.
          Christian
          I will take a coffe break.

        2. I guess you got that job as a troll after all. You certainly fit the bill. Ignorance and arrogance are the perfect traits for trolls. By the way, if this comment section DID have the ignorance filter you were whining about earlier, you wouldn’t be able to post at all. Where did you get your doctorate at? Trump University?

          1. Jim, I feel sorry for people like you. You trust nothing but the Internet. If you want to believe in conspiracy theories, go right ahead. Darwin proved that if you don’t adapt, you won’t survive. You have the right to do as you want, just spare the world from your closed minded attempt to somehow sound superior. Speculate all you want. Fill you head with wild and crazy thoughts, and continue to ignore facts. I wish you good luck, with that.

          2. Yea dr asshat, I like how you have decided you know everything about me. It’s especially funny as you are so clueless about everything else as well. I guess all that methane you’ve inhaled has really affected your brain. Hint: If you pull your head out of your rear, you might make some sense.

          3. I like also how you claim I am closed minded when you obviously have never considered expanding your little pea brain. By the way, Darwin’s theory on evolution wasn’t the only one, it was just that his theory appealed to the rich guys. Cooperation is far more effective in evolution than fighting. But, you wouldn’t know these things as they don’t teach these things at Trump University. What is your doctorate in? Scatology?

          4. Oh yes, the one track mind of the moron. You are fascinating in your aberrant manner. I note how you can’t be bothered to actually follow up on your baseless characterizations of my thought processes. So, why should I read anything you link when you are so arrogant as to denounce my offerings? I am not debating you; I stopped that shortly after you proved to be a raving lunatic. I am exposing you as the moronic fool you truly have proved yourself. You are the only one here that does not realize it. That truly is amusing.

          5. My ignorance? you have already proven you have the lock on that field. I like how you insist we all read your links, while proclaiming ours to be frauds without ever looking at them. You are nothing but a troll. A doctor? Of what? Scatology is still my best guess. Strange how you never specified your field, and also how you always have time to reply almost instantly. It’s almost as if you have nothing else to do but comment on this site.

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