Serious concerns have been voiced over significant increases of wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) cases and an “unprecedented” emergence of multiple vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) strains in several countries.
Last month, the World Health Organization’s Director General convened the 23rd meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) regarding the international spread of poliovirus to discuss the latest data on WPV1 and cVDPV.
The Committee said it remains gravely concerned by the significant increase in WPV1 cases globally to 113 as of 11 December 2019, compared to 28 for the same period in 2018. The Committee warned that the risk of a major upsurge of cases is growing in Afghanistan, while in Pakistan transmission is widespread.
Seven new countries have reported cVDPV outbreaks since the emergency committee last met. The Committee noted cVDPV2 has spread through West Africa and the Lake Chad area, reaching Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Chad and said the “rapid emergence of multiple cVDPV2 strains in several countries is unprecedented and very concerning, and not yet fully understood."
The Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended extending temporary recommendations to reduce the risk of international spread.