ADVERTISEMENT

Contaminated Polio Vaccines Are Not Cause for Panic, Say Doctors

Don’t fall prey to fake news regarding contamination and instead remain wary of the larger threat of polio.

Updated
Health News
4 min read
A medical worker administers polio drops to an infant at a hospital in Agartala, Tripura. 
i

(24 October is observed every year as World Polio Day to urge efforts from the global community to completely eliminate the infectious disease. FIT is republishing this story in that light)

Snapshot

Earlier in October 2018, news of contamination of polio vaccines emerged. The media reports claimed that about three batches or 1.5 lakh vials of the vaccine were found contaminated with type 2 polio virus. This further means that children born after 2016 are not immune to polio. These vaccines were made by the Ghaziabad-based company Biomed.

The Indian Health Ministry announced on Wednesday, 3 October, that they have increased surveillance in the states of Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, reportedly. The ministry is backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in these efforts.

The incident was discovered when stool samples from Allahabad tested positive of type-2 polio virus, according to NDTV.

Contaminated Polio Vaccines Are Not Cause for Panic, Say Doctors

  1. 1. Understanding Polio

    A child being administered polio drops.
    A child being administered polio drops.
    (Photo: IANS)

    WHO describes polio in the following manner:

    Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person, and spreads mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

    The symptoms of the disease include fever, fatigue and pain in the limbs, among others. In rare cases, polio can also lead to permanent paralysis. There’s no known cure for the disease and vaccination and immunisation is the only way of safeguarding ourselves against it, adds WHO.

    Cases of polio have gone down by 99 percent since 1988 from 3,50,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017
    Source: WHO

    Intense and timely vaccination of the disease has played a major role in combating it.

    Dr Jyoti Joshi, South Asia Head of Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), describes the oral polio vaccine (OPV) as “a live vaccine with weakened polio viruses capable of eliciting a protective antibody response but not enough to cause the disease. (Further) There are 3 types of Polio viruses-type 1,2 and 3, but after the elimination of the type -2 virus, from April 2016, the entire world is currently using only a bivalent OPV which has type 1 and 3 only.”

    Expand
  2. 2. Contamination of Polio Vaccines

    The fact that the contamination was discovered in time is a tragedy averted.
    The fact that the contamination was discovered in time is a tragedy averted.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    No one can knows for sure what happened in this particular case of vaccine contamination, but has it left the population exposed to polio?

    Dr Joshi, says:

    It is difficult to speculate how the contamination could have taken place as there are several steps in the vaccine manufacture process involving several months - it could be a contamination in the seed viruses, or during growth in cell cultures, in the production line etc.

    However, the doctor adds that the fact that the contamination was discovered in time is a tragedy averted.

    It is a public health success that the contamination was detected through the environmental surveillance of polio and entire process could be traced back to its source (from contaminated sewage samples with type 2 in stool of children who would have received the contaminated vaccine ) - a production site where contamination was finally found.
    Dr Jyoti Joshi
    Expand
  3. 3. What After Contamination? Be Alert, But Don't Panic

    It’s important to not panic, especially in times of false news and facts circulating in the digital space.
    It’s important to not panic, especially in times of false news and facts circulating in the digital space.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Dr Joshi insists that it’s important to not panic, especially in times of false news and facts circulating in the digital space.

    To know more about it, click here:

    The doctor further adds that the contamination was minor and that the mitigation efforts have quickly been implemented.

    With existing mechanism to track the vaccine vials from central, regional and district stores up to the health facility, the government has already started the process for recall of the contaminated batches in public health facilities. India has one of the best polio surveillance networks and has been able to be polio-free in spite of being surrounded by polio-endemic countries in its neighbourhood. 

    “The Indian polio surveillance system is going to become even more intense with strict monitoring of all 150,000 children who have received the vaccine for any suspect signs and symptoms over the 60-day-incubation period of polio (maybe even longer) and experts advising on the results as they come in”, adds Dr Joshi.

    Additionally, it’s important to be alert, but not panic, because there might not be any aftereffects after the first detection of the disease, she says.

    Expand
  4. 4. Can the Polio Virus Enter Our Ecosystem Now?

    Now that the presence of type 2 virus has been detected, is it possible for the virus to enter our ecosystem?
    Now that the presence of type 2 virus has been detected, is it possible for the virus to enter our ecosystem?
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Now that the presence of type 2 virus has been detected, is it possible for the virus to enter our ecosystem and infect others by means of human waste? Dr Joshi says that humans live an interconnected life, which is also the reason why the presence of the virus was detected in the first place.

    However, remember as the immunity of children in India has been built up with regular rounds of polio immunisation campaigns as well as routine immunisation programme, do not worry, rather, allow for the surveillance system to weigh in and respond as needed.
    Dr Jyoti Joshi
    Expand
  5. 5. How Do We Safeguard Ourselves Anyway?

     It’s  important to be wary of the larger threat of polio.
    It’s important to be wary of the larger threat of polio.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Once again, the doctor repeats, it’s important to not fall prey to fake news which recommends people to stop getting their children vaccinated. It’s more important to be wary of the “larger threat of the wild polio disease”, she adds.

    (Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

    Expand

Understanding Polio

A child being administered polio drops.
A child being administered polio drops.
(Photo: IANS)

WHO describes polio in the following manner:

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person, and spreads mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

The symptoms of the disease include fever, fatigue and pain in the limbs, among others. In rare cases, polio can also lead to permanent paralysis. There’s no known cure for the disease and vaccination and immunisation is the only way of safeguarding ourselves against it, adds WHO.

Cases of polio have gone down by 99 percent since 1988 from 3,50,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017
Source: WHO

Intense and timely vaccination of the disease has played a major role in combating it.

Dr Jyoti Joshi, South Asia Head of Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), describes the oral polio vaccine (OPV) as “a live vaccine with weakened polio viruses capable of eliciting a protective antibody response but not enough to cause the disease. (Further) There are 3 types of Polio viruses-type 1,2 and 3, but after the elimination of the type -2 virus, from April 2016, the entire world is currently using only a bivalent OPV which has type 1 and 3 only.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Contamination of Polio Vaccines

The fact that the contamination was discovered in time is a tragedy averted.
The fact that the contamination was discovered in time is a tragedy averted.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

No one can knows for sure what happened in this particular case of vaccine contamination, but has it left the population exposed to polio?

Dr Joshi, says:

It is difficult to speculate how the contamination could have taken place as there are several steps in the vaccine manufacture process involving several months - it could be a contamination in the seed viruses, or during growth in cell cultures, in the production line etc.

However, the doctor adds that the fact that the contamination was discovered in time is a tragedy averted.

It is a public health success that the contamination was detected through the environmental surveillance of polio and entire process could be traced back to its source (from contaminated sewage samples with type 2 in stool of children who would have received the contaminated vaccine ) - a production site where contamination was finally found.
Dr Jyoti Joshi

What After Contamination? Be Alert, But Don't Panic

It’s important to not panic, especially in times of false news and facts circulating in the digital space.
It’s important to not panic, especially in times of false news and facts circulating in the digital space.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Dr Joshi insists that it’s important to not panic, especially in times of false news and facts circulating in the digital space.

To know more about it, click here:

The doctor further adds that the contamination was minor and that the mitigation efforts have quickly been implemented.

With existing mechanism to track the vaccine vials from central, regional and district stores up to the health facility, the government has already started the process for recall of the contaminated batches in public health facilities. India has one of the best polio surveillance networks and has been able to be polio-free in spite of being surrounded by polio-endemic countries in its neighbourhood. 

“The Indian polio surveillance system is going to become even more intense with strict monitoring of all 150,000 children who have received the vaccine for any suspect signs and symptoms over the 60-day-incubation period of polio (maybe even longer) and experts advising on the results as they come in”, adds Dr Joshi.

Additionally, it’s important to be alert, but not panic, because there might not be any aftereffects after the first detection of the disease, she says.

ADVERTISEMENT

Can the Polio Virus Enter Our Ecosystem Now?

Now that the presence of type 2 virus has been detected, is it possible for the virus to enter our ecosystem?
Now that the presence of type 2 virus has been detected, is it possible for the virus to enter our ecosystem?
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Now that the presence of type 2 virus has been detected, is it possible for the virus to enter our ecosystem and infect others by means of human waste? Dr Joshi says that humans live an interconnected life, which is also the reason why the presence of the virus was detected in the first place.

However, remember as the immunity of children in India has been built up with regular rounds of polio immunisation campaigns as well as routine immunisation programme, do not worry, rather, allow for the surveillance system to weigh in and respond as needed.
Dr Jyoti Joshi

How Do We Safeguard Ourselves Anyway?

 It’s  important to be wary of the larger threat of polio.
It’s important to be wary of the larger threat of polio.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Once again, the doctor repeats, it’s important to not fall prey to fake news which recommends people to stop getting their children vaccinated. It’s more important to be wary of the “larger threat of the wild polio disease”, she adds.

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

ADVERTISEMENT
Published: 
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Up On Your Health

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter Now.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT