Polio is back with a vengeance, especially in rich economies and health authorities are on high alert, trying to stop it from spreading even more.
That’s right, this dangerous virus that hasn’t been a problem for decades has returned to several countries.
Last week, New York City health authorities announced that polio has been detected in sewage samples and just last month, a man living in the same area was diagnosed, being the very first case in the United States since 2013.
And that’s not all! London health officials announced that polio vaccine boosters would be offered to hundreds of thousands of kids after they also detected the virus in their waste water.
Furthermore, Israel has also identified the country’s first cases since 1988!
Finally, Ukraine has had quite a few polio cases as well and the situation is even direr due to the fact that the country is currently at war and their health services are under strain as a result.
All in all, this returning virus raises valid concerns that increasing vaccine hesitancy and other conflicts globally can lead to the comeback of a scary virus that had previously been all but completely eradicated.
As you might be aware, for most of the 20th century, polio was a pretty common disease occurring during childhood, killing and gravely disabling tens of thousands of young people every single year.
Fortunately, in the 1950s, vaccines were developed to help with the situation and along with the 1988 global campaign against polio, they were able to bring the number of infections down to only 175 cases yearly as of 2019.
So it makes sense why the authorities are worried to see it reemerge in several European countries and the U.S.
World Health Organization’s regional adviser on vaccine preventable diseases in the European region, Siddhartha Datta, stated that “There’s been a huge dip globally in routine immunisation coverage, as countries were engaged in the Covid 19 pandemic response. If you scratch the surface, it shows the vulnerability of many countries’ immunisation systems.”