With its last reported case of a wild polio infection dating back to January 2011, India completed the three-year mandatory period that a country needs to stay free of fresh polio infections in 2014, allowing it to be endorsed as a polio free country.
India is now introducing injectable polio vaccine (IPV) in its universal immunisation programme. This is a part of the World Health Organization’s polio endgame strategy.WHO has defined a staged approach which paves the way for polio eradication. Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) cessation will eventually take place following a gradual decrease of OPV use, and once circulation of wild poliovirus has stopped fully. Currently, the introduction of one dose of IPV in routine immunisation is part of GPEI’s Endgame Strategic Plan for 2013-2018 and relates to the cessation of OPV2 vaccination through the switch from trivalent to bivalent OPV.
As reported in the Tribune, IPV introduction in India will happen six months ahead of the WHO’s global plan to switch from the current regime of trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV) to bivalent OPV in April 2016.
- First phase: Children in high risk states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and northeastern states
- Second phase: Moderate risk states, including J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand
- Third phase: Low risk southern states
Meanwhile in today’s article, Delhi government authorities confirmed the diagnosis of a rare Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (VDPV) in a two-and-a-half year old child. According to sources, the child received 20 doses of the oral vaccine as part of his routine immunisation. In his case, the live attenuated virus from the vaccine started to actively circulate in the body. The P2 strain, considered the strongest of the three strains of the polio virus, was the first to be eliminated from India in 1999.This article will reinforce the outrage of critics such as the Mumbai surgeons Ishrat Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan who say that India should have introduced the IPV much earlier in its immunization campaign to increase protection of its people against VDPV.
We recently had the opportunity of discussing these developments with Dr Joël Calmet, who is the Senior Director of Communication, Medical and Scientific at the Global Communication Department at Sanofi Pasteur. He is in charge of communications with specific focus on polio eradication, and he shares his views with us on the status of polio eradication in the world. He has worked on polio in India since the early 1990s and was, for many years, responsible for Sanofi Pasteur’s cooperation with the WHO and with other polio eradication partners.