According to Voice of America, Nigeria is one of just three remaining countries with endemic, wild-type polio. However, the latest launch of a new polio vaccine in the country could bring the idea of a world free of polio that much closer. The Indian company Panacea Biotec launched its inactivated polio vaccine in Nigeria, POLPROTEC, on the 63rd Indian Republic Day.
India is the latest country to celebrate a year free of wild-type polio. This situation has largely resulted from widespread use of the low-cost and effective oral polio vaccine. However, because this vaccine is live, it has ironically led to instances of vaccine-derived polio--for example, last year in India there were 7 cases, a story in The Telegraph notes. According to Panacea Biotec, there were 434 cases of vaccine-derived polio worldwide between July 2009 and March 2011, with the highest number in Nigeria.
Panacea Biotec's vaccine is inactivated, so cannot cause vaccine-derived polio. And even though they are more expensive, vaccines like these could help eradicate even the last traces of polio worldwide. Panacea Biotec has committed to providing inactivated polio vaccines to children in underdeveloped and developing countries at an affordable price, and it is collaborating with Emzor Pharma to support distribution across Nigeria.
"The initiative of inactivated polio vaccines along with oral polio vaccines will limit transmission of endemic wild polio virus type 1 and type 3 and will totally overcome inherent limitations of oral polio vaccines," Dr. Shafi Kolhapure of Panacea Biotec said.
According to the Deccan Herald, the World Health Organization is planning to shift towards using both an inactivated and a traditional polio vaccine to eliminate all forms of the virus.