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Polio: The Story so Far

For many countries, polio outbreaks are a distant memory, with 80% of the world’s population now living in certified polio-free regions. However, in certain countries around the world, polio remains a very real threat, particularly to children under the age of 5. According to the WHO, the failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining polio strongholds could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.1

Progress towards polio eradication can be seen in the below heatmap, documenting the decline of disease incidence since 1980.

Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) / Date updated: 7 October 2020

But the wild polio virus is only one side of the story.
The oral polio vaccine has played an important role in the journey towards eradication. However, on rare occasions, if a population is seriously under-immunized, an excreted vaccine-virus can continue to circulate for an extended period of time. In rare instances, the vaccine-virus can genetically change into a form that can paralyze – this is known as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).2

This additional threat from cVDPV is a growing focus in the fight for polio eradication, with cases primarily on the African continent and with isolated cases also emerging in South East Asia. The heatmap illustrates the volume of cases from affected countries over the past 5 years.

Sanofi Pasteur is pleased to continue serving in our role in support of continued global public health collaborations that are continuously adapting to evolving disease challenges while remaining steadfast in the commitment to fight polio to its end.

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