$1.2 Billion More for Polio Vaccines
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced yesterday it would commit $1.2 billion to support efforts to end all forms of polio globally.
The new financial commitment announced on October 16, 2022, supports the implementation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Eradication Strategy 2022-2026, which aims to end wild poliovirus in the last two endemic countries—Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Another concern is that countries that had previously eliminated all forms of poliovirus have recently reported new detections in wastewater systems.
The United States (New York) and the United Kingdom each confirmed variant poliovirus detections and were added to the World Health Organization's outbreak list in September 2022.
Furthermore, Malawi and Mozambique each detected cases of wild polio that originated abroad in 2022.
To notify travelers of these polio risks, the U.S. CDC's Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions travel advisory says that anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series before any international travel.
"Polio eradication is within reach. But as far as we have come, the disease remains a threat. Working together, the world can end this disease," stated Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a related press release.
With its Strategy 2022-2026, the GPEI is working to further integrate polio campaigns with broader health services and essential immunization programs. Increasing the use of an innovative new tool—the novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2)—is necessary to stop outbreaks of variant poliovirus sustainably.
The nOPV2 vaccine is genetically more stable than oral polio vaccines, with a lower risk of reversion to neurovirulence.
Approximately 525 million doses of nOPV2 have been administered across 22 countries as of May 2022.
Investments in GPEI also help strengthen national health systems and ensure that countries are better prepared to respond to future health threats. In addition, the strategy continues the GPEI's commitment to achieving gender equality across all program levels.
The Gates Foundation has contributed nearly $5 billion to GPEI.
Other polio outbreak news and vaccine research are posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com/Polio.
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