Polio on its way out

Friends celebrating Christmas or New Year eve. Party table with champagne.

One strain of a vaccine preventable disease has been declared eradicated by world health experts

On World Polio day on 24 October, an independent commission of experts concluded that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated globally.

According to the World Health Organization’s newsroom, this is a “historic achievement for humanity,” after the eradication of smallpox as well as wild poliovirus type 2.

“The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health. Commitment from partners and countries, coupled with innovation, means of the three wild polio serotypes, only type one remains,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Oversight Board.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that all necessary resources are made available to eradicate all poliovirus strains.

“We urge all our other stakeholders and partners to also stay the course until final success is achieved.”

WPV2 was declared eradicated in 2015.

Meanwhile WPV3’s last case was documented in Nigeria, in 2012, and since then global health surveillance systems have worked to confirm that this particular strain is no longer.

The WHO celebrated the eradication of the disease in an event at its Geneva, Switzerland headquarters.

“This this is a significant achievement that should reinvigorate the eradication process and provides motivation for the final step – the eradication of wild poliovirus type 1,” said Professor David Salisbury, chair of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication.

“This virus remains in circulation in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. We cannot stop our efforts now: we must eradicate all remaining strains of all polioviruses. 

“We do have good news from Africa:  no wild poliovirus type 1 has been detected anywhere on the continent since 2016 in the face of ever improving surveillance.”

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