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Global polio eradication; can we replicate the smallpox success story?

Despite the fact that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has mostly been effective in eradicating polio from different regions of the world, rare local outbreaks in non-endemic areas are still a problem. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two endemic countries where 176 cases of wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) were reported in 2019. After staying polio-free for years, cases of WPV were reported in Malawi and Mozambique in 2022, and the strains were similar to the WPV strain from Pakistan. These cases of WPV cases in Malawi and Mozambique highlight the fact that WPV still has the potential to spread outside of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and that ongoing efforts are necessary to eradicate it completely. Similarly, smallpox has been already eradicated in many countries, and it is of important concern to keep track of new emerging cases.

Read more to know more about this polio and smallpox global eradication plan.

Abstract

Although the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has been largely successful in elimination of polio from various parts of the world, sporadic local outbreaks in non-endemic areas continue to pose a threat to global polio eradication efforts. In the two endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, a staggering 176 cases of wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) were reported in 2019. In 2020 alone, 959 cases of Circulating Vaccine Derived Poliovirus 2 were reported globally from 27 countries. After staying polio-free for years, cases of WPV were detected in Malawi and Mozambique in 2022. The roots of the reported strains matched with the WPV strain from Pakistan. The emergence of WPV cases in Malawi and Mozambique underscores the fact that WPV still has the chance to spread beyond the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and sustained efforts are required for its complete eradication. In the case of smallpox, surveillance-containment was the key to eradication as many countries had already eradicated smallpox and the bigger concern was to track and contain any new cases emerging. Smallpox eradication followed a comprehensive plan which included elements like quality control and standardisation of vaccination protocols. Governments all over the world should prioritise immunisation drives, surveillance, and awareness campaigns to achieve the dream of a polio-free world.

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Reference

  1. Javed H, Rizvi MA, Fahim Z, et al. Global polio eradication; can we replicate the smallpox success story? Rev Med Virol. 2023 May;33(3):e2409. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2409. Epub 2022 Nov 25. PMID: 36426668.
MAT-IN-2301510-1.0-07/23