The Ministry of Health has clarified that there is ‘practically nil’ chance of any child getting vaccine derived polio disease. In a statement released yesterday, the government said, “No sample has tested positive for wild polio virus in sewage or AFP cases since 2011. The country remains polio-free and this status has been maintained for more than seven years since the last wild polio virus case in the country was reported in January 2011. No child has been infected with wild polio virus as reported in some sections of the media.”
According to recent media reports, the country’s ‘polio-free’ status was put under risk by at least three batches of polio vaccines which were contaminated with type 2 polio virus. The batch had 1.5 lakh vials of the vaccine and it was manufactured by a Ghaziabad based pharma company. These vials were sent to Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana.
The govt’s statement said that after taking cognizance of the matter “the use of all the vaccine supplied by this manufacturer was immediately stopped in the country till further investigation. Samples were immediately sent for testing to the Central Drug Laboratory in Kasauli. Reports confirmed that the presence of traces of P2 polio vaccine virus. The Drugs Controller General of India filed an FIR and issued notice to the company. It asked the company to stop manufacturing and supplying till further orders. The MD of the company was immediately arrested.”
“Type 2 polio vaccine virus traces which have been found in bOPV vials is the attenuated (weakened) polio virus and does not cause paralysis and was also earlier used in tOPV till April 2016. The recipients of such vaccine will usually shed the vaccine virus through fecal route for about 4-6 weeks after which it will die down,” the Union health ministry’s statement added further.
Earlier this week, Polio II virus was detected in stools of children in Ghaziabad area. On further investigation it transpired that there were traces of Polio II virus in the bivalent polio vaccine administered to them. This polio vaccine only has Polio I and Polio III virus killed by heat.
A three-member committee was constituted by the ministry to probe this case and to find out the cause of re-introduction of this strain of eradicated polio virus. The govt had ordered destruction of this strain from the manufacturing and supply chain.
Ministry has assured sufficient availability of polio vaccine from alternate sources to implement its Routine Immunization (RI) and Pulse Polio Immunization (PPI) programme without any hindrance.