During the twentieth century, polio was one of the most terrifying childhood diseases. It can attack the nervous system and, within hours, paralyze a person.
When the chest muscles are paralyzed, a person cannot breathe. Thus, a coffin-like iron lung was once a common sight in polio wards.
It all seems like a thing of the past – and there are good reasons to feel this way. The disease has almost been eradicated from the face of the earth.
In Brazil, the last case of polio was seen in the city of Sousa, in Paraíba, in 1989. The disease has been officially eliminated from the national territory for 27 years, since 1994.
However, This year, the United States recorded the first case of polio since 2013which left an unvaccinated young adult paralyzed.
in London, About 1 million children will receive an extra dose of the polio vaccineAfter the discovery of the polio virus in the sewers of the British capital.
In Brazil, the polio immunization rate has fallen dramatically since 2015.
Since polio vaccines were developed in the early 1950s, polio vaccines have completely changed the course of the disease.
Without them, the 20 million people who can walk today would be paralyzed, estimates the World Health Organization (WHO).
The disease has gone from a global phenomenon in the 1980s to a problem confined to a few countries. This includes the remarkable victory of declaring Africa polio-free in 2020.
Although Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries where polio is still endemic, the disease remains a threat to the rest of the world.
This is because first An outbreak in these two countries could lead to an outbreak elsewhere.
The first case of wild polio in Africa was reported over five years ago in a 3-year-old girl in Malawi.
It was the same type found in Pakistan – although no one is sure how it passed from one country to another.
In February, Malawi declared an outbreak of wild polio.
in second place, The vaccine used in both endemic countries and the handling of outbreaks can create a problem – That’s what affects the UK and other countries these days.
The most effective polio vaccine uses oral drops of a weakened but still live form of the polio virus.
It is an inexpensive and easy to administer solution that produces excellent immunity, making it ideal for responding to an outbreak.
However, it works by causing gastritis – which is why it is released in the feces of vaccinated people. This can transmit the polio virus to other people.
To some extent, this is beneficial, as it indirectly immunizes others. This is known as vaccine-derived polio.
But by passing from one person to another, The virus can mutate and cause paralysis again.
A child receives an anti-polio drop at a center in Campinas (SP) this Saturday – Photo: Procreation / EPTV
The oral vaccine has been hugely successful. But the ability of the polio virus to mutate into its most dangerous form is the reason Countries seek to migrate to inject the inactivated virus (ie, killing) once polio has been eradicated.
The UK has been using these injections since 2004. What is now emerging in the Stream London is the virus that came from the use of the oral vaccine in other parts of the world.
Some samples are showing signs of regaining their ability to cause paralysis – and genetic analyzes indicate that the virus is spreading.
This same phenomenon is also related to polio samples found in sewers in the United States and Israel.
Low vaccination rates
For those who are completely contraindicated, the risks are negligible.
As for the unvaccinated, The risk of developing paralysis ranges from 1 in 100 to 1 in 1,000, depending on age.
In Brazil, the character Zé Gotinha appeared in 1986 as part of a polio vaccination campaign – Photo: Conass/Reproduction
Because of the low vaccination rate, Brazil is one of eight countries in South America at high risk of a resurgence of polioAccording to a report by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in 2021.
The polio vaccine is indicated for all Brazilian children in a five-dose schedule.. The first three are made using an injectable immune system and should be used at two, four and six months of age. Next, the two boosters (usually made with drops) are given between 15 and 18 months and 5 years of age.
However, in recent years, vaccination coverage has been unavailable. According to the same Ministry of Health data, the rate of polio vaccination has decreased significantly since 2015.
Six years ago, 98.2% of the target audience received the doses. In 2016, this rate decreased to 84.4% and remained at this level until 2019. In 2021, immunization against the disease was only 67.1%.
The recommended polio vaccination coverage range, according to Fucruz, is 80%..
The national campaign against polio and other diseases continues until September 9
Polio is like a disease of the past – But the virus in the London Stream, the state of paralysis in the United States, and the low vaccination rates in Brazil are a wake-up call to each of us and our governments that we cannot tolerate polio..
Our progress can be undone.
Scientific advances could make a difference – a new, more stable version of the oral vaccine is less likely to cause paralysis again, for example.
But polio also needs to be treated in the remaining two endemic areas – otherwise the risk of an outbreak will always be present.
This is a challenge not limited to science or money, but also political and social issues.
The United States has come under fire for undermining efforts to stop polio when it used a fake vaccine program to try to find former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
We’re very close to eradicating polio – but we’ve been at this point for a long time.
Today the disease is considered a confined threat – but it will not become extinct until it is eradicated everywhere.