Polio End Game

Notes for editors:

The plan was created by the GPEI in extensive consultation with national health authorities, global health initiatives, scientific experts, donors and other stakeholders. There are four main objectives of the plan: 1) Poliovirus Detection and Interruption; 2) Immunization Systems Strengthening and Oral Polio Vaccine Withdrawal; 3) Containment and Certification; and 4) Legacy Planning.


Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus: On very rare occasions, the live, weakened poliovirus contained in the oral polio vaccine may genetically alter in the immunized person’s gut. If a population is seriously under-immunized, the virus may begin circulating in the community, and is referred to as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV). Between 2000 and 2011 – a period in which more than 10 billion doses of oral polio vaccine were given worldwide – cVDPV outbreaks resulted in 580 polio cases. In the same period, wild poliovirus paralyzed more than 15,500 children. As wild poliovirus declines, however, the proportion of cVDPV in low-immunity communities rises. The new plan uses cutting-edge knowledge about these viruses and new tactics to raise immunity, including introduction of inactivated polio vaccine and phasing out use of the component of the oral polio vaccine which gives rise to the majority of cVDPV. If a population is fully immunized against polio, it will be protected against the spread of both wild and vaccine strains of poliovirus.

About GPEI

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), launched in 1988, is spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Since its launch, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 percent. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. Today, only three countries remain endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last year, cases of wild poliovirus plunged from 650 in 2011 to 223, the largest drop in a decade. As of 17 April, 19 cases have been reported, a 60% reduction compared to this time last year.

For more information:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: media@gatesfoundation.org, +1 206 709 3400 
Rotary International: Petina Dixon-Jenkins. petina.dixon@rotary.org, +1 847 866 3054 
UNICEF: Sarah Crowe. scrowe@unicef.org, +1 646 209 1590

US CDC: Alan Janssen. axj3@cdc.gov, +1 404 639 8517 
WHO: Sona Bari. baris@who.int, +41 22 791 1476 or mobile +41 79 475 5511

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