The Polio Merry Go Round

The amount of information on the Internet regarding Polio is never ending. There is so much contradictory information it could easily be labeled the cyberspace equivalent of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.According to the World Health Organization, as of 2012 wild polio is still occurring in 3 countries: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India also appeared on this list until the beginning of 2012 when it was announced that wild polio had not occurred in India in 2011. In order for polio to be officially considered eradicated in India they will have to be polio free for 3 consecutive years.

So this is good news, a reason to celebrate. You can thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a job well done. Or can you? Considering the campaign to eradicate polio began some 25 years ago, in 1988, you can hardly thank Mr Gates although some on the internet are doing this. No surprise there though. The following article was released by NPR, which is owned by Mr. Gates: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/10/18/162739833/with-an-army-of-vaccinators-india-subdues-polio

As time fades facts and memories, surely he will be happy to take credit. What should be said, but has not been said enough in the mainstream media, is that there was also well over 47,000 cases reported in India in 2011 alone of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP). It is easy to assume the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), which is a live vaccine containing 3 strains of polio virus, has the potential to make some recipients sick, but there are always a myriad of possibilities and factors of cause and effect involved in any organisms fate. The following interesting piece of information is just one important example.

According to the Polio Eradication website there are “Advantages” and “Disadvantages” to the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Listed under “Advantages” -

  • OPV is administered orally. It can be given by volunteers and does not require trained health workers or sterile injection equipment.
  • The vaccine is relatively inexpensive. In 2011, the cost of a single dose for public health programmes in developing countries was between 11 and 14 US cents. 
  • OPV is safe, effective, and induces long-lasting immunity to all three types of polio virus.
  • For several weeks after vaccination, the vaccine virus replicates in the intestine, is excreted in the faeces, and can be spread to others in close contact. This means that in areas where hygiene and sanitation are poor, immunization with OPV can result in the “passive” immunization of people who have not been directly vaccinated.

So why is the vaccine virus being spread to others not a disadvantage? Is this how so many cases of NPAFP are spreading throughout the Indian population? Have samples of NPAFP been tested and the results made public to see if they contain any or all of the 3 strains used in OPV’s? Has the diagnosis of vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP) become NPAFP? Certainly it would not be the first time the definition of an illness similar to polio has been altered from its original definition.

The Polio Eradication website continues -

Disadvantages

Although OPV is safe and effective, in extremely rare cases (approx. 1 in every 2.7 million first doses of the vaccine) the live attenuated vaccine virus in OPV can cause paralysis. In some cases it is believed that this vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP) may be triggered by immune deficiency.

The extremely low risk of VAPP is well known and accepted by most public health programmes in the world because without OPV, hundreds of thousands of children would be crippled every year.

A second disadvantage is that very rarely the virus in the vaccine may genetically change and start to circulate among a population. These viruses are known as circulating vaccine-derived polio viruses (cVDPV).

Safety

OPV is an extremely safe vaccine. All OPV used in supplementary immunization activities for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is pre-qualified by WHO and procured through UNICEF. In 2006, WHO issued a statement to affirm the quality and safety of OPV.

http://www.polioeradication.org/Polioandprevention/Thevaccines/OralpoliovaccineOPV.aspx

Then I stumbled across this tidbit of info-

In neighboring Pakistan during 2011, 136 children came down with polio. Yet 107 of them had been vaccinated multiple times with oral polio vaccines (OPVs). That’s over 78% of those supposedly “immunized” against polio getting that same disease.” (http://www.immunizationinfo.org/vaccines/polio).

While the above statement is interesting, but it does not say if the polio was the wild form or vaccine-induced. I mean, why can you not ever get a real answer with facts instead of speculation?

Another question I have now after researching Polio, is why are up to 10, sometimes as many as 15 doses, given to one child during these campaigns when according to Wikipedia, “[o]ne dose of OPV produces immunity to all three poliovirus serotypes in approximately 50% of recipients.[16] Three doses of live-attenuated OPV produce protective antibody to all three poliovirus types in more than 95% of recipients.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabin_vaccine#Oral_vaccine)

Is the vaccine not as effective as was once thought? Is the vaccine being used to continuously infect sanitation and water? On the Polio Eradication site, it is stated that the Oral Polio Vaccine is believed to give life long immunity from polio, doesn’t anybody know by now since it has been around for over 50 years?

Attempts at finding the ingredients used for the current Sabin Vaccine were fruitless. The use of OPV was banned in the US about 13 years ago and is no longer used anywhere in the world except in third world countries. According to Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, a pediatrician practicing in the US, “The oral polio vaccine was banned from use in the United States in 2000. The reason for this ban was because too many children were developing vaccine associated paralytic polio (VAPP) as a serious side effect of the oral vaccine. In other words, they were developing paralytic symptoms that the vaccine was supposed to prevent them from developing…”. The fact that the Sabin vaccine reportedly has a cost of 11-14 US cents per dose seems a logical reason for using this vaccine, but are there other reasons?

And so we spin round and round the vaccine merry go round of disinformation. When can we get off?

The experience in northern Namibia showed that with no polio vaccination children developed natural immunity to the wild polio virus without developing paralysis.”

(Biellik et al. 1994. Poliomyelitis in Namibia. Lancet 344: 1776).