As the country reaches the last phase of polio eradication through oral vaccine, it is time to move on to injectable Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) at the earliest to prevent emergence of vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPV) (strains of poliovirus that have mutated from the strain contained in the vaccine) from getting into circulation, said Dr Jadagish Deshpande, director of the Enterovirus Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research, Mumbai and the chairman of the India Expert Advisory Group on Polio Eradication. He was delivering the Eighth Fieldhouse-Myers Oration organised by the department of clinical virology attached to the CMC on Friday. While VDPV strains were identified among a few cases in five Northern States in 2010 and 2011 and in the environment in sewage samples in Mumbai, Delhi, Patna and Kolkatta, a revised policy on immunisation to introduce IPV was required, Deshpande underlined.
With India almost having achieved eradication of polio through an intensive oral vaccine drive, in the past 16 months, no fresh case has been reported.
He said many countries had switched over to IPV. “Ours is a large country which requires a lot of planning for issues of production, its availability, cost effective delivery system and maximum coverage through a well-designed immunisation programme,” he said.