Policy Forum

The Polio Eradication Effort: Should Vaccine Eradication Be Next?

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Science  08 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5327, pp. 779-780
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5327.779

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has implemented a plan to eradicate poliovirus that is widely viewed as having made enormous progress. If all goes as planned, polio will be eradicated on this planet by the year 2003. However, there is a debate, as highlighted in a pair of Policy Forums in this issue, over when vaccination against polio can be stopped. Dove and Racaniello believe that the reliance of the WHO on the live Sabin oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) means that there will be a continuing threat of release of potentially pathogenic virus into the environment. They are also concerned that the planned destruction of all wild-type polio stocks will not be possible. They therefore recommend a switch to the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). In response, Hull and Aylward explain why a switch from OPV is not necessary and describe the studies being sponsored by the WHO to determine how and when immunization can safely be ended.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: vrr1{at}columbia.edu

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