Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Polio virus found in Britain ‘could have come from 22 countries’

ISLAMABAD: After the United Kingdom discovered poliovirus in sewage samples in London for the first time in four decades, Pakistan as the source has been raised.

However, health officials in Islamabad claim that the “vaccine-derived virus” found in the UK is present in 22 countries and that the type found locally was wild poliovirus (WPV).

The UK Health Protection Agency has noted that the virus may have been imported from some country, and has asked parents to make sure their children are fully immunized against the crippling disease.

Dr Shahzad Baig, National Coordinator of Pakistan Polio Eradication Program dawn On Thursday it was too early to say whether the virus came from Pakistan, as UK officials were yet to announce the results of the genome sequencing.

Genome sequencing report will reveal the origin of the virus, says official

Genome sequencing helps determine the origin of a virus, as samples found in different regions contain a different ribonucleic acid (RNA). At times, the cases reported in Pakistan were reported to have originated from neighboring Afghanistan during genome sequencing.

“We are waiting for the genetic sampling report of the virus. Furthermore, there are two types of poliovirus in the world: WPV which is present in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV). Environmental samples in London were found to contain VDPV, which is present in 22 countries, so Pakistan should not be blamed for exporting it before genetic sequencing reports were received,” Dr Baig insisted.

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He added that the vaccine-derived variety can travel through Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Central Africa and many other countries.

An expert from the Ministry of National Health Services, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said there are three types of WPV. “Decades ago, a vaccine named ‘Trivalent’ was used because it included all three types. Following the elimination of type II in 2016, a ‘bivalent’ vaccine with types I and III of WPV was introduced. However, type II suddenly re-emerged in 2020, raising fears that the virus has the potential to re-emerge. This second type of virus is called VDPV, as it has been completely eradicated from the world. was,” he said.

“Oral polio vaccine (OPV) contains an attenuated (weakened) vaccine virus, which activates the immune response in the human body. When a child is given OPV, the weakened vaccine virus replicates (grows) in the intestine for a limited period of time, causing immunity to develop by producing antibodies. During this time the virus of the vaccine also comes out. In areas with inadequate sanitation, this excreted vaccine virus can spread within the immediate community (and provide protection to other children through ‘passive’ vaccination), before eventually dying,” he said.

“On rare occasions, if a population is severely under-immunized, an excreted vaccine virus can continue to circulate for an extended period of time. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more genetic changes occur. In very rare instances, the vaccine virus can be genetically transformed into a form that can paralyze – this is known as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, ”explained the expert.

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Public health expert Dr Nadeem Jan told dawn Pakistan would be in a difficult, but rather embarrassing, situation if it were proved that the virus found in London came from here.

“Pakistan has already been under a travel advisory, due to which every person is required to get vaccinated and carry a vaccination certificate before traveling abroad. We also claim that over 90% of the vaccination target has been achieved. The world can doubt our claims if it is found that the virus is from Pakistan,” he remarked.

Responding to a question, Dr Shahzad Baig claimed that the polio virus was generally under control in Pakistan except in North Waziristan, where there were denials of vaccines and people were not cooperating with polio teams.

“Around 200 countries have already eradicated the virus, and Pakistan can achieve the target as well. Unfortunately, North Waziristan has become a safe haven for the virus, but if we are able to defeat the virus there, we will be able to eradicate it from the country,” he insisted.

Nation World News Desk
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