Gujarat model of apathy: Government ignores WHO’s vaccine warning, polio virus hits back

Despite the World Health Organization�s warning to the Gujarat government about the return of the Vaccine-Derived Type 2 Polio virus, the state government paid no heed and now the virus has made a comeback in Ahmedabad.

Gujarat model of apathy: Government ignores WHO’s vaccine warning, polio virus hits back

Despite the World Health Organization’s warning to the Gujarat government about the return of the Vaccine-Derived Type 2 Polio virus, the state government paid no heed and now the virus has made a comeback in Ahmedabad.

The city is among the two places in the country which had triggered a WHO alert. Hyderabad in Telangana was the other Indian city where the virus was said to be making a comeback.

On January 7, three days ahead of the Vibrant Summit, the

Centres for Disease Control (CDC) of the Unites States put out a worldwide alert in the public interest.

Gujarat has been silent and unmoved, but the Telangana government had declared a "global emergency" back in June after detecting the wild type 2 polio virus. Telangana also had 2 lakh vaccines flown in from Geneva to inoculate more than 3 lakh children in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts as a preventive measure.

According to Gujarat health commissioner J P Gupta, more than 500 samples were taken from sewerage lines in Ahmedabad and a few samples had tested positive for the virus.

Some of the samples collected on August 30 in Ahmedabad city tested positive for Sabin-like type 2 polio virus. The virus was detected approximately four months after the state health department was told to ensure a switch from the Trivalent Oral Polio Virus Vaccine (tOPV — consisting of types 1, 2, 3 polio viruses) to the Bivalent Oral Polio Virus Vaccine (bOPV — consisting of type 1 and 3 viruses).

But despite the instruction, the detection of the vaccine-derived type 2 virus in sewerage clearly indicates that tOPV was still being used by medical practitioners and hospitals. In a test search in Ahmedabad, two tOPV vials were found at a private vaccine retailer and another 11 tOPV vials were found at eight private clinics. All tOPV vials had expiry dates ranging from December 2016 to November 2017.