Govt swings into action over contaminated polio vaccine

The three states where the contaminated vaccine was used are Uttar Pradesh, Telengana and Maharashtra. (DH File Photo)

The Union Health Ministry on Monday claimed it had identified hundreds of children who received contaminated polio vaccine in three states and keeping a close watch on them in order to ensure that the vaccine strain of the type-2 polio virus doesn’t pose a fresh public health risk.

The three states where the contaminated vaccine was used are Uttar Pradesh, Telengana and Maharashtra.

Nearly 1.5 lakh vials were contaminated with type-2 strain of the virus that was withdrawn worldwide more than two years ago.

Out of the 1.5 lakh vials, nearly two-thirds were used, mostly in Uttar Pradesh and Telengana whereas the rest had been recalled, sources said.

As a counter-measure, the recipients of the contaminated vaccine would now be given a dosage of inactivated polio vaccine that is administered through an injection.

Health ministry officials claimed an intense surveillance net would be in place for the next 3-4 months to ensure that the type-2 polio strain doesn’t trigger any fresh public health threat once it is released in the environment through the stool and mutates into a virulent form.

The type-2 strain was eliminated from India in 1999.  In March 2014, nearly 15 years later, India received the polio-free certificate from the WHO.

Oral polio vaccine contains weakened, but live strains of the polio virus. Initially OPV had all the three types, but following the elimination of type-2 strain globally, the trivalent OPVs were withdrawn in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s polio eradication strategy.

The babies born after April 24, 2016 didn’t receive a vaccine to protect them against type-2 polio virus.

The vaccine experts said contamination of the OPV vials with type-2 polio strain is similar to the introduction of a new virus in the community.

A Ghaziabad-based company Biomed released the trivalent OPV carrying all the three strains of polio virus – type-1, type-2 and type-3 – into the government immunisation programme.

Last week, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation registered a police complaint against the company and set up a three-member probe panel to investigate how the contaminated vaccine was sent for use in the immunisation programme.

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Govt swings into action over contaminated polio vaccine

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