A World Free Of Polio – Not Yet

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In the February 11, 2016 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine the first perspective article was titled “A World Free of Polio – The Final Steps“.

Frankly I was shocked by what I read. Beginning in the 1980’s, a series of lawsuits were filed against the Lederle drug company, which was owned by American Cyanamid at the time. These lawsuits were filed first in state and then in federal court and all were based on the proposition that an innocent person, either a vaccine recipient infant or a family member of a recipient, had acquired paralytic polio as a consequence of having been inoculated with the Sabin oral attenuated vaccine or coming in contact with infants who were vaccinated.

In 1978, the Institute of Medicine recommended that before being given oral polio vaccine that the former Salk killed vaccine be administered. This is because the oral vaccine had acquired sufficient neurovirulence to produce in a recipient or a close contact the very disease the vaccine was intended to prevent.

The Institute of Medicine recommended that by first inoculating infants with killed vaccine, they would acquire an immunity. Infants would not be carriers of that vaccine and would not suffer the disease or cause others to suffer the disease.

I was therefore shocked to learn that endemic transmission of polio caused by live polio viruses had been stopped in all counties except Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Type 2 Poliovirus, one the three strains responsible for centuries of human paralysis and disfigurement, was eradicated. The virus now only exists in the trivalent oral polio vaccine, in weakened form.

Since the last case of naturally occurring Type 2 Live Polio Virus in 1999, continued use of the Sabin vaccine including the Type 2 component has paralyzed 1,600 to 3,200 people with vaccine associated paralytic polio and an additional 600 people with vaccine-derived poliovirus with the neurovirulence and transmissibility of the wild poliovirus.

Such things occur only when the public is uninformed. I believe when the public learns that since 1999 such a quantity of people have been paralyzed by the use of the vaccine when this result could be so easily avoided by eliminating Type 2 polio virus from the current trivalent vaccine and that this has not been done, action will be taken.

It is only by keeping the public at large ignorant of such information that such a program of continuing to paralyze children and their close contacts can persist.

I look forward to a vigorous response.

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