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‘Time to finish the job’: One wild polio strain stands in the way of eradication of the disease

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The international effort to achieve [polio eradication] passed a major milestone [recently] with the worldwide eradication of wild poliovirus type 3. The announcement, due from the Global Commission for the Certification of the Eradication of Poliomyelitis comes just four years after eradication of wild poliovirus type 2. It leaves only a single strain, wild poliovirus type 1, on the loose. Type 1 is now holed up in the smallest area in the history of the disease—though that area comprises politically and geographically fraught regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Would it be more practical just to back off from the difficult goal of eradication and instead focus on merely controlling the spread of the disease? [The World Health Organization’s Michael] Zaffran cites a 2007 study calculating that the switch from eradication to control would cost $3.5 billion annually—and result in 200,000 cases of polio every year. “If we stop,” he says, “the disease will come back. It will rapidly spread into the Middle East, into Africa and maybe even into Europe and the United States, as we have seen with measles. I truly believe that now is the time to finish the job—and we have all the tools to do it.”

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Read full, original post: Two Strains of Polio Down, One to Go

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