New polio vaccine eradicates two wild strains

Officials with the World Health Organization in Switzerland say a new oral polio vaccine may hold the ability too eradicate two wild strains of the deadly disease.

Dr. Roland Sutter, of the WHO’s Polio Eradication Department, in Geneva, told UPI that he and his colleagues have strong hopes that the new vaccine may finally end the disease worldwide. Sutter said the new vaccine against the polio virus has helped reduce the number of cases.

“This new vaccine could get us over the top and get us to the finish line for eradication,” Sutter told UPI.

The newly developed bivalent oral polio vaccine for types 1 and 3 produces a stronger immune response compared with the earlier trivalent vaccine for types 1, 2 and 3, according results of a study the researchers recently published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Sutter told UPI that a randomized, double-blind trial of the new vaccine was performed in India, where type 2 polio no longer circulates.

Approximately 830 newborn babies received either the new vaccine or one of the old vaccines in two doses - one at birth and one 30 days later. Blood samples were taken before vaccination and after the first and second doses to measure seroconversion, which is the rise in antibodies produced by the immune system against polio.

Sutter reported  that the new vaccine is about 30 percent more effective in protecting against polio than the polio vaccine that is currently in use.

The new vaccine has already been used in immunization campaigns in Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. In India, the number of polio cases at this time last year was 464. Over the same period this year, there have only been only 39 cases. Nigeria has seen an even greater difference, with cases falling by 95 percent, according to Sutter.

“The dramatic drop in the number of polio cases in India and Nigeria is attributable to the new vaccine and better coverage during immunization campaigns,” Sutter said, according to UPI.