The world celebrated a milestone in the fight against polio on Oct. 24 by certifying that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) is eradicated globally.
WPV3 eradication is the latest milestone in a series of celebrations and setbacks for the conglomerate of public-private global supporters working to rid polio from the furthest corners of the earth. The Region of the Americas has been devoid of all polio for 25 years, but the fight continues across the ocean.
WPV2 was certified as eradicated globally in 2015. WPV1 remains in circulation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. WPV1 has not been detected in Africa since 2016. However, circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses remain in that region, according to the World Health Organization.
The next step is to achieve eradication of all polioviruses. Among challenges are weak and fragile health systems, low immunity levels that contribute to outbreaks of vaccine-derived virus, difficult terrain and insecurity, and vaccine refusals, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) investment case 2019-2023.
When the World Health Assembly voted to launch the GPEI in 1988, more than 350,000 polio cases were recorded in 125 countries. In 2018, just 33 wild polio cases were recorded in two countries. Since 1988, GPEI efforts have saved countless lives and more than $27 billion (U.S.) in health costs.
Over the next four years, the endgame strategy employs best practices built on the successful foundation that includes immunization, surveillance and containment. Reaching the final eradication goal requires continued commitment from financial, political and institutional donors, according to the GPEI.
The world is more than 99.99% of the way toward achieving polio eradication. Reaching the goal will send a strong message, according to the GPEI investment case. “It will provide both irrefutable evidence of the transformative power of vaccines and proof of what the world can achieve by joining efforts in support of the global good.”