By Wendy Orent
Sabin’s oral vaccine is actually causing new outbreaks of the disease.
We’ve been waiting a long time for the eradication of polio. Since the World Health Organization’s 1988 decision to eliminate polio from nature, as it once did smallpox, billions of dollars have been funneled into this long war. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation alone has contributed more than $1 billion since 1999 to the effort, and it recently pledged an additional $119 million. The massive campaign has included armies of eradicators, mountains of research and the dedication of numerous governments and NGOs.
These efforts have spared perhaps 400,000 children a year worldwide from paralysis or death. But we’re not done with polio yet. There’s a bitter irony hidden at the heart of the eradication campaign: The primary tool eradicators have used to combat the virus — the oral polio vaccine created by Albert Sabin in the late 1950s — is itself causing outbreaks of the disease.
Last year was a good one for polio eradication. Nigeria, long a pool of infection, has vigorous new leadership dedicated to the campaign, and this has led to a sharp reduction in polio there. Transmission of the disease has nearly ceased in two other holdout areas: the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India.
Note from the SaneVax Team: Vaccine producers seem to be ignoring a basic scientific fact. The sole purpose a virus has is to survive. If it cannot survive in its current environment, it will mutate until it can. No one knows what consequences these mutations will have for the human population.