The Philippines is once again polio-free, the World Health Organization said Friday, after a successful vaccination campaign that has raised hopes for Covid-19 inoculations in a country plagued by mistrust of jabs.
Polio re-emerged in the country in 2019, nearly two decades after the detection of its last cases, sparking a
nationwide effort to immunise millions of children against the crippling disease.
it infected At least 17 people, but health authorities said they have not detected the virus in a child or the environment in the past 16 months.
“We are celebrating freedom from polio,” saiys Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative in the Philippines.
They immunized more than 80 percent of unvaccinated children in the nationwide effort, which Abeyasinghe
said was “adequate to interrupt the transmission”.
The 2019 outbreak began shortly after deadly dengue fever and measles epidemics and as vaccination
coverage plunged partly due to the botched rollout of a dengue shot a few years earlier.
Speaking on the Virus
Polio is highly infectious and can lead to paralysis and even death. There is no known cure.
The virus that re-emerged in the Philippines had genetically mutated from a weakened strain of wild polio
that also contained in the oral vaccine used all over the world to control the disease.
Philippine health officials hope they will replicate the success of the polio vaccination effort in its rollout of Covid-19 jabs.
Only around 1.6 million people — or just over one percent of the population — have fully received the vaccine
against the disease. The glacial pace has been blamed on supply shortages and safety fears.
“We have numerous surveys indicating that vaccine confidence is low, but this (polio) campaign has proven
otherwise,” Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said.
“Hopefully we will parallel and pattern these kinds of activities and these kinds of efforts when we do our Covid-19
vaccinations and when supplies are ready.”
By Victoria E.I