CIA interference may have hurt polio cause

Pakistani officials report that the national polio drive was negatively impacted after the CIA staged a fake vaccination campaign to gather information and DNA samples from Osama Bin Laden's compound.

The vaccination ruse, led by Shakil Afridi, contributed to Bin Laden's assassination and was revealed in a British newspaper more than one year ago. Since that time, some legitimate vaccinators have been chased off and Taliban commanders have banned polio vaccination teams in multiple districts, the New York Times reports.

"It was a setback, no doubt," Elias Durry, the World Health Organization's polio coordinator for Pakistan, said, according to the New York Times. "But unless it spreads or is a very longtime affair, the program is not going to be seriously affected."

The battle against polio is now down to the last one percent of cases. The number of cases of paralysis caused by polio have shrunk worldwide from 350,000 in the 1980s to approximately 600 today. Pakistan had 198 cases of polio in 2011.

"There could hardly have been a more stupid venture, and there was bound to be a backlash, especially for polio," Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, a vaccine specialist at Aga Khan University in Pakistan, said, according to the New York Times.

While vaccine refusals have increased in some areas, Bhutta is confident that Pakistan will be able to rid itself of the deadly disease.

"Tragic as it is, I'm confident resistance will die down," Bhutta said, according to the New York Times. "The rational religious establishment is engaged now, and the lunatic fringe is just the lunatic fringe."