WHO Using New Bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine In Afghanistan

The WHO on Tuesday launched a vaccination campaign in Afghanistan that will use “a new and more effective polio vaccine” for the first time, Reuters reports (Nebehay, 12/15).

“This is a major new tool in efforts to eradicate Types 1 and 3 polio,” the WHO’s Rod Curtis said, VOA News reports. “No new cases of Type 2 poliomyelitis have been reported anywhere in the world since 1999,” writes the news service (Westpheling, 12/15).

“The bivalent oral polio vaccine, known as bOPV, is made by Europe’s biggest drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, the first of five manufacturers to be licensed, [the WHO] said,” Reuters writes. The agency also said that because the vaccine is effective against two types of the virus, its use “will vastly simplify the logistics of vaccination in the conflict-affected parts of this country.”

Curtis said the new oral vaccine is expected to be “a critical new tool” for global polio eradication. The WHO is also planning on using it to vaccinate tens of millions of children in India and Nigeria by the end of January, he added (12/15).

“From Tuesday to Thursday, polio immunization campaigns in Afghanistan will deliver the new vaccine to 2.8 million children under five in the country’s southern and eastern regions,” according to Xinhua (12/15). Of the current campaign, Curtis noted that access to children in Afghanistan had improved over the last year, but up to 60 percent of children in Kandahar and Helmand provinces in the south could not be reached because of insecurity, Reuters writes (12/15).