There are growing concerns over the outbreak of Vaccine Derived Poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The virus is contracted as a result of many factors, including refusing to take the shots or not completing polio vaccines.
While the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) is the most common form of poliovirus, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus or cVDPV is another form of polio that can spread within communities which Nigeria is currently experiencing.
Medical experts say the outbreak is a public health concern and warned that it is a threat to Nigeria’s wild polio virus-free status.
The outbreak of cVDPV2 came to the fore barely one year after Nigeria was certified wild polio virus-free by Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC).
Before the certification, Nigeria was the only wild polio-endemic country in Africa.
The last case of wild poliovirus was detected in Nigeria in 2016. Since 1996, polio eradication efforts had prevented up to 1.8 million children from crippling life-long paralysis and saved approximately 180, 000 lives, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The recent surge in Nigeria
The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, had on Monday, July 5, announced that the country was witnessing a cVDPV2 outbreak in Abia, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Lagos, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states.
“As we are all aware, Nigeria has been certified WPV free by the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC). However, there are cases of cVDPV2 in some states, hence the need for us as a country to jealously guard our WPV-Free status and stop the cVDPV2 transmission in our communities,” he said.
According to him, the agency had conducted four Outbreak Responses (OBRs) using the Novelle Oral Polio Vaccine, which was a preferred choice as it does not seed the virus.
He added that “sub-optimal performance has been recorded in all the states due to the high number of missed children during the exercise. This poor quality will affect how we are able to bring this outbreak under control.”
Dr Shuaib said that donor funding for polio had reduced drastically and called on traditional rulers to continue to draw the attention of political leaders on the need to continue to fund polio outbreak response campaigns.
‘We risk losing our wild polio-free status’
Prof. Oyewale Tomori, a renowned virologist and past president of the Nigeria Academy of Science said the current outbreak of cVDPV2 was of great concern and evidence of the poor level of immunisation of children especially newborns.
He said the more severe implication of the drop in the level of immunity is that with wild poliovirus still circulating around the world, importation of the wild strain will spread like wildfire among the poorly immunised children and Nigeria could lose her wild polio-free status.
He said,” Put simply, unless we take remedial action urgently, not only are we in the danger of continuous circulation of vaccine-derived poliovirus, which will continue to paralyse our under-protected children, we are in addition on the way to losing our wild polio-free status should the wild poliovirus be imported and spread in Nigeria.
“Years of efforts to interrupt the transmission of wild poliovirus will be wasted. Before we reverse our success, we must urgently revive and strengthen our routine immunization activities,” he said.