The fight against polio is one of the greatest vaccination success stories: the infectious disease is on the verge of being wiped out worldwide, and Europe, for example, has been officially polio-free since 1990. But experts have now detected the virus in London wastewater. This means that the pathogen was first discovered in Great Britain 40 years ago.
The impression that the dreaded polio is now erupting again on a large scale is deceptive. It is not uncommon for polio viruses to continue to emerge somewhere in the world – not despite the global eradication campaign, but because of it. It is also not the first case of its kind in Europe.
The global vaccination campaign, which has eradicated wild poliovirus in almost every country on Earth, is based on a vaccine for reproducible polioviruses – the famous oral vaccination. This live vaccine contains weakened pathogens that can still reproduce and even infect other people. Those who have been vaccinated clear the virus for two to six weeks.
Why you can get a vaccine
Another vaccine contains inactivated viruses but must be injected into a muscle. On the other hand, having a live orally administered vaccine offers significant advantages if you want to vaccinate millions of children worldwide. And in fact, a positive side effect is that the virus continues to spread, because in this way the children vaccinate part of their family as well. A phenomenon known as Silent Freedom.
In addition, only oral vaccination reliably protects against infection. The inactivated vaccine prevents disease but not infection, so the polio virus can spread silently if only that vaccine is used. Therefore, in the 1960s and 1970s, a live vaccine was used with an added preference to suppress wild poliovirus. Last but not least, the weakened vaccine virus is only slightly contagious and usually dies after only one or two infections.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”