WHO Emergency Committee convened to discuss international polio spread


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Experts have sounded a warning over the potential risk of the continued international spread of poliovirus saying failure to boost population immunity and to prevent outbreaks could jeopardise or severely delay polio eradication.

The 20th meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of poliovirus was convened last month, with members reviewing data on wild poliovirus (WPV1) and circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV).

The committee voiced concern over the increase in WPV1 cases globally in 2018, with more cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the only two countries where wild poliovirus transmission is continuing to be reported, than in 2017. It said this trend appears to be continuing in 2019. 

The committee said there are now eight countries in four World Health Organization Regions responding to outbreaks of cVDPV, an unprecedented number of outbreaks. The committee noted that in all infected countries, routine immunisation was weak.

The committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended extending existing temporary risk reduction measures in areas such as travel and vaccination for a further three months. 

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