Published on Deccan Chronicle (http://www.deccanchronicle.com)
Rise in paralysis cases after polio vaccine
Cases of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis, better known as AFP, has sharply increased with the increase in the administration of oral polio vaccination (OPV) in the country under the much-acclaimed polio eradication programme. According to a report by Dr. Neetu Vashisht and Dr. Jacob Puliyel, appearing in the April-June issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, the incidence of non-polio AFP had gone up by 12 times over and above the normal rates with the onset of the administration OPV 10 years ago. The report appeared at a time when Kerala is getting prepared for another round of OPV on April 15. Dr. Jacob, also a member of the national technical advisory group on immunisation and of the working group on food and drug regulation in the 12th Five Year Plan, told DC on Friday that there was a definite co-relation between the increase in the number AFP and the irrational administration of OPV. Normally, he said, the chances of children under the age of 15 getting affected by non-polio AFP are 1-2 per 100,000. But, the rate of non-polio AFP nationally “is now 12 times higher than expected.” In 2011, an additional 47,500 children were newly paralyzed, over and above the standard rate of 2 children per 100,000 non-polio AFP cases, says the paper in the journal. Dr. Jacob said the increase in the occurrence of non-polio AFP could be directly linked to the massive increase in the dosage of OPV in the name of eradication. Although, the increase in the non-polio AFP was known for quite some time, it was for the first time that a co-relation was established by collating the data of the national polio surveillance, he said. “It is sad that, even after meticulous surveillance, this large excess in the incidence of paralysis was not investigated as a possible signal.” , nor was any effort made to try and study the mechanism for this spurt in non-polio AFP.” According to Dr Jacob, the dream of eradicating polio will remain a mirage due to the existence of “residual samples of samples virus stored in laboratories, by vaccine-derived polioviruses or by poliovirus that is chemically synthesized with malignant intent”. The increase in non-polio AFP might have been caused by the increase in OPV, leading to virus strains other than that of causing polio getting active, he said.
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