Vaccine shortage a roadblock to polio eradication in India

India’s polio programme has suffered a setback in the absence of regular supply of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), given as injections.

As the shortage is likely to continue till 2018, the WHO and the Union health ministry will now try to manage the programme in the country with a regimen of two fractured doses of the IPV, even though child specialists have raised questions on the efficacy of the strategy.

“Yes, it is a setback. It needs to be managed, and that is what is happening at the moment,” Oliver Rosenbauer, WHO’s communication officer for the global polio programme told DH from Geneva.

In 2013, the WHO finalised its polio endgame strategy that requires gradually replacing  oral polio drops with IPV shots.

“The scale-up by manufacturers to produce the required IPV encountered challenges and this has unfortunately, resulted  in a considerable reduction in the planned and anticipated supply until 2018,” Rosenbauer said.

As a management strategy,   health experts now favour two fractional doses (one fractional dose is one-fifth of a full dose) of the IPV, given twice to infants — first at the age of six weeks and then at 14 weeks. They claim the combination provides the same protection against all polio viruses as does one full dose of the IPV.

The regiment was introduced in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Puducherry from April 2016.

But the strategy faced serious questions from the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), a body of top child specialists.

According to the IAP, the strategy failed the non-inferiority test when compared to  the full dose of IPV.

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