Global eradication of wild poliovirus type 2 declared

The polio eradication programme reached an important milestone with the verification of global eradication of one of the three types of wild polioviruses – wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2). The last case due to the type 2 wild poliovirus globally was reported from Aligarh, India in 1999. “This historic milestone should reinvigorate global efforts to ensure high quality surveillance, immunisation and outbreak response preparedness until the world is rid of the remaining polioviruses,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said.

Among the remaining polioviruses, WPV3 was last reported in Nigeria in 2012. The only remaining WPV1 strains are now restricted to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication met on 21 September in Bali, Indonesia, and after reviewing formal documentation submitted by Member States, global poliovirus laboratory network and surveillance systems officially declared the worldwide eradication of WPV2. This is a significant step towards the phased removal of oral polio vaccines (OPVs), beginning with a planned switch from trivalent OPV (for all three polioviruses) to bivalent OPV (for polioviruses type 1 and type 3) in April 2016.

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