More than 80 million children from six countries in Africa have been vaccinated with the novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2), the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday.
Africa is the world’s first region to rollout of the vaccine after it received the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing status in November 2020.
The vaccine has been rolled out in Nigeria, Benin, Congo, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone.
Africa was certified free of wild polio in August 2020, although outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polio type 2 are still being reported.
“The nOPV2 brings significant advantages in tackling polio outbreaks and Nigeria has worked closely with the global polio partners to rollout the vaccine. With swift outbreak response and effective tools and measures, our path to ending all forms of polio once and for all is clearer,” said Dr Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee, Nigeria.
The nOPV2 is a modified form of the monovalent oral polio vaccine designed to be more genetically stable and less likely to, in under-immunized populations, revert to a form that can cause permanent paralysis in children from vaccine-derived poliovirus.
The vaccine is still expected to be rolled out in five more countries in Africa, targeting 30 million more children by December.
“Africa’s trailblazing rollout of the novel polio vaccine shows a true determination to ending polio for good. The progress made by the six countries and the upcoming rollout in five additional countries targeting 30 million children by the end of 2021 promise effective and lasting protection from the threat of lifelong paralysis,” said Dr Pascal Mkanda, Polio Eradication Programme Coordinator at WHO Regional Office for Africa.