Three batches of polio vaccine have been contaminated with a dangerous type 2 virus, which may shred India’s “polio free” status.
Since April 2016, polio type 2 vaccines have been retired around the world and children born after this date are exposed to health risks.
The World Health Organization and the health ministry have started a joint initiative in order to tack down any potential cases, particularly in Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are the most vulnerable after contaminated vaccines have been administered to children living in this area.
Biomed, a firm based in Ghaziabad, is the manufacturer of the faulty vaccines, and it may face criminal charges if found guilty.
The contamination can be considered similar to the intentional spread of a long-lost virus that was tough to be cured. WHO and other health authorities are working hard on elaborating counter-measures and prevention guidelines in order to stabilize the situation.
The ministry has also created an investigation commission which aims to find how did the contamination take place, as the type 2 vaccines were supposed to be destroyed back in 2016 after they were officially retired and the company should have destroyed all any quantity still in its stock.
The main problem is the fact that the vaccines were oral, containing live vuses that can be found in stool samples. If contaminated stools reach the sewage system, the virus may reactivate and spread again. Mutation into a new strain can also appear, which would cause major health problems around the country.
Biomed was the main supplier of vaccines for the national immunization campaign. The first clue that something was not right appeared after signs of the virus appeared in e stools of recently vaccinated children.
India was officially classified as ‘’polio free’’ in March 2014, and the last case o type 2 polio was registered almost two decades ago in 1999. The WHO continues to maintain a close eye on all paralysis cases found in children under the age of 15, and regular sewage surveys are taken in order to track the presence of the virus.