The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the global eradication of wild poliovirus type-3. However, it said that polio virus type 1 still remains in circulation in just two countries; Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a statement issued Wednesday night to mark the 2019 World Polio Day, WHO said that an independent commission of experts had concluded that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) had been eradicated worldwide. WHO is organising activities to mark the world Polio day this Thursday at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and in most cities across the world.
The world health body said the polio eradication efforts had saved the world more than US$27 billion in health costs since 1988. According to the world health body, a sustained polio-free world will generate further US$14 billion in savings by 2050, compared to the cost countries would incur for controlling the virus indefinitely. The GPEI (Global Polio Eradication Initiative) is a public-private global effort made up of national governments, partners including the World Health Organisation, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a broad range of long-term supporters.
The WHO statement reads: “Following the eradication of smallpox and wild poliovirus type 2, this news represents a historic achievement for humanity. The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health. Commitment from partners and countries, coupled with innovation, means of the three wild polio serotypes, only type one remains,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation and Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Oversight Board. “We remain fully committed to ensuring that all necessary resources are made available to eradicate all poliovirus strains. We urge all our other stakeholders and partners to also stay the course until final success is achieved,” he added.
WHO explained that there were three individual and immunologically-distinct wild poliovirus strains: wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) and wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3). It said that symptomatically, all three strains are identical, in that they cause irreversible paralysis or even death. But there are genetic and virologic differences which make these three strains three separate viruses that must each be eradicated individually. WPV3 is the second strain of the poliovirus to be wiped out, following the certification of the eradication of WPV2 in 2015.
The statement said the last case of WPV3 was detected in northern Nigeria in 2012, but that its eradication had been confirmed through the surveillance system. WHO said that investments in skilled workers, innovative tools and a global network of laboratories had helped determine that no WPV3 exists anywhere in the world, apart from specimens locked in secure containment.