Nigeria records 27 cases of vaccine-derived polio


Lara Adejoro

No fewer than 27 new cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 have been reported in Nigeria in 2022.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative disclosed this in a report obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday.

According to the report, the country has also reported three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples from Kano, Borno, and Gombe States.

Meanwhile, experts say the report is not a major threat to the nation’s wild polio-free status. GPEI is a public-private partnership led by national governments with six-core partners – the World Health Organisation, Rotary International, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Children’s Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The report also showed that the country reported 415 cases of cVDPV2 in 2021.

The GPEI said Nigeria is classified by the International Health Regulations as a state infected with cVDPV2 with a potential risk of international spread and “it is, therefore, subject to temporary recommendations as of February 2022.”

Speaking with our correspondent, a medical microbiologist at the Lagos State University, Prof. Bola Oyefolu, said polio cases are underreported in the country due to stigmatisation as well as religious and cultural beliefs.

“Nigeria got the issue of vaccination right at a particular time when it established the Federal Vaccine Production Laboratory, Yaba, to get pathogens of local strains to make vaccines and protect the community, but I don’t know what went wrong with the government.

“We must reactivate the laboratory and pump money into research and for the production of vaccine. The government knows the solution to curbing the spread of polio but I think they are after using our problem to source grants from foreign countries and foreign organisations so that they can embezzle,” Oyefolu said.

Also, a Professor of Public Health, Tanimola Akande, said cases of cVDPV2 are worrisome and called for intensive surveillance.

Akande said, “Government should intensify and improve on routine immunisation. The government is already putting some response to the outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus through supplemental immunisation. The quality of such campaigns needs to be improved upon. Every stakeholder needs to be involved so that all children under 5 are reached during those campaigns.

“Vaccine-derived poliovirus is not a big threat to Nigeria’s wild-polio-free status. However, with cases of wild poliovirus reported recently in Malawi and Mozambique, there is some level of threat to our polio-free status. Intense surveillance and good immunisation coverage will help us remain wild polio-free in Nigeria. It will be a major setback if a case of wild poliovirus is recorded in Nigeria,” Akande noted.

Efforts made to get the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, for comments on the report on Tuesday failed as his telephone line indicated that it was not reachable.

He had also not responded to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

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