One of the greatest medical successes trumpeted is the eradication of small pox. Polio has been next on the list for decades. But the reality is that at this point continuing to vaccinate may be making things worse.
According to the recent New York Times article, there have been no wild-strain polio cases in Africa in a year. But there were cases of oral vaccine-derived polio.
When a malnourished child receives an oral polio vaccine, it is possible for that weakened vaccine to mutate and take hold. It may not infect that child, but be excreted out in the feces and infect another child living nearby.
In this way, there were 66 cases of vaccine-derived polio in 2013 and 55 cases in 2014 worldwide. A child in Mali has been documented as being paralyzed from vaccine-derived polio recently.
The response? Massive new rounds of oral polio vaccine.
What is needed is to switch to the injection of the dead polio vaccine, which would not cause secondary infection. But injection requires more medical personnel than are currently available to administer the injections.
Wouldn’t a wiser course be to inject likely contacts with the dead virus rather than continue the shotgun approach of spreading the disease even as we seek to eradicate it?