Can we eradicate polio?

The Economist has an article about the Campaign to wipe out polio.

ONLY one disease has ever been eradicated—smallpox—but Davos Man thinks a second is possible. In a packed congress hall today full of world leaders and celebrities, David Cameron and Bill Gates announced a bold campaign to wipe out polio over the next few years.Mr Cameron said Britain would double its aid spending on polio, from its current commitment of £20m a year in 2011 and 2012 to £40m each year. However, mindful of domestic politics in a time of budget-slashing, he insisted the new government money must be matched by five times as much in new contributions from others.

Ever the philanthrocapitalist of the hour, Mr Gates then announced that the leader of the United Arab Emirates is giving $13m to polio and, as he was walking off stage—rather casually, almost as if it were an afterthought—that his foundation will also increase its polio funding by over $100m, thus kickstarting the race for matching funds.

There’s a new bivalent vaccine that’s proving very effective.

Researchers in India and Switzerland have found that a relatively new vaccine may hold the key to eradicating Polio from the face of the Earth. Bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV) not only performs as well as traditional vaccines, it does so against a wider range of virus types. It may allow children in Polio hotspots to develop resistance to more strains of the virus quicker, cutting down on infections, and stopping pandemics from growing. The vaccine is already in wide use in Afghanistan. One in two hundred infected will develop paralysis and between 5-10% of those will die from inability to breathe.

WHO experts said as compared to triple vaccines, a significantly higher immune response was induced by the bivalent oral polio vaccine, known as bOPV. WHO spokesman Rod Curtis said that about 55.7 million who will receive the bivalent vaccine will be included in some 72 million children in 15 countries across Africa who this week would be vaccinated in immunization campaigns.

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