Polio vaccine mishap, is it really to be worried off?

Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation Practices (ACVIP) is issuing the following statement

Recently, contamination of bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) vials has been reported from Uttar Pradesh. Polio vaccine virus (Sabin) type II was found in stool sample of vaccinee in UP who received OPV vaccine supplied by Biomed (P) Ltd, Ghaziabad UP. The AFP (acute flaccid paralysis) surveillance system picked this virus. The bOPV vaccine should contain only type I and III Sabin type polio viruses (attenuated polio viruses). The use of type II polio virus (Sabin) has been discontinued since April 2016 and no vaccine should now contain type II polio (Sabin) virus.

The government agencies took prompt actions.First, the use of the bOPV vaccine supplied by this company to government vaccination program was stopped. Later, Central Drug Standard Control Organization, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, the drug and vaccine regulator, stopped manufacture, sale and distribution of bOPV by Biomed (P) Ltd. Regulatory and legal actions are underway. Surveillance system for AFP has further been strengthened.

It is pertinent to note that children over 2 years of age received trivalent OPV in routine immunization till April 2016 when the use of trivalent OPV was discontinued and bOPV was introduced. Children below 2 years of age now, received bOPV along with single inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) or 2 doses of intradermal (fractionated IPV) fIPV in government immunization program, and several doses (3-4) of IPV as part of combination vaccines by private providers. The coverage of eligible population for IPV is very good in India. Thus, population immunity against type II polio virus is robust and an unlikely event of spread of type II polio virus in community can hardly cause any harm. Further, the polio surveillance system in India is very strong and sensitive to pick up spread of polio viruses very early.

IAP ACVIP reviewed the situation and is of the opinion that there is no need to panic. The immunization against polio should continue as per the IAP Immunization schedule. Both vaccines, IPV and bOPV are safe and their use should be continued. IAP supports national immunization program and the efforts for eradication of poliomyelitis. IAP is proud of the contribution of its members to immunization services in country.

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