New vaccine shows promise in wiping out polio

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Thanks to a new polio vaccine, the contagious, crippling disease may be completely wiped out from the face of the earth.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) scientists, the new bivalent oral polio vaccine, also known as bOPV, is more effective in shielding people against infection than the current trivalent vaccine.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Roland Sutter of the WHO’s Polio Eradication Department in Geneva stated, “This (new) vaccine could get us over the top and get us to the finish line for eradication.

“The dramatic drop in the number of polio cases in India and Nigeria is attributable to the new vaccine and better coverage during immunization campaigns.”

bOVO targets type1 and type 2 strains of polio virus
Although polio has been eradicated in many areas, despite mass immunization with single and triple vaccines, the disease is still prevalent in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, where 153 cases of type 1 and 3 surfaced this year.

The new vaccine, which is taken orally, targets type 1 and type 3 strains of polio virus that still pose a problem.

This means that kids can be successfully immunized against the two important strains with one single dose.

The potential effectiveness of bOPV was evident in India, where only 32 cases were reported so far this year compared to 260 in 2009.

“With this new bivalent vaccine we feel we have an effective tool which for the first time gives us a single vaccine to deal with the type 1 and type 3 versions of the polio virus,” Dr Sutter said.

Safety and efficacy of bOVP assessed
In a bid to evaluate the potential of the new vaccine against the polio, the researchers conducted a study between August and December 2008 in India.

For the purpose of the study, 830 new born babies from three centers were split into three groups.

The infants were randomly assigned to the monovalent, bivalent or trivalent vaccines, one dose at the time of birth and the next 30 days later.

Blood samples were taken before the vaccination and then after the first and second dose to measure the rise in the antibody levels.

The researchers noted that bOPV induces a significantly higher immune response than trivalent vaccine.

They found that bOPV was 86 percent effective at generating antibodies against type 1 polio virus and 74 percent effective against type 3 whereas the trivalent vaccine exhibited 63 percent and 52 percent effectiveness against type 1 and type 3 viruses respectively.

The authors concluded, “The major advantages of the bivalent vaccine…is that it will enhance individual and population immunity simultaneously for both poliovirus types 1 and 3, without any serious loss in immunogenicity compared with the monovalent vaccines.”
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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