A Solution that May Finally Eradicate Polio

Although many have forgotten about the disease that once had the world literally and figuratively paralyzed, those reliving polio today in their senior years, do not forget. This return of their original symptoms is referred to as post-polio syndrome and is often more debilitating than that originally experienced. It seems unfair that folks who had polio as children are having to experience the second pandemic in their lifetime.

Some people who have had COVID-19 are already experiencing strange side effects even now, while the pandemic still rages on.  And who knows what form this might take in the future.

Many people think that polio has been eradicated since much of the world is free of this disease. The U.S. has had no cases since 1979. However, as long as there is even one case of polio remaining in the world, it cannot be said that it has been eradicated.

There are 3 strains of polio. One was eradicated in 2015. Another has not been detected anywhere since 2012. But there still remains one strain in Pakistan. So there is work yet to do before the world will finally be free of the poliovirus and the word eradication can be correctly applied. With world travel as it is  (was before COVID-19), it is critical that this last challenge be overcome.

As mentioned in my previous blog, for a vaccine to be useful throughout the world, especially in underdeveloped countries it needs to be transported safely without refrigeration.

Not being a scientist, I won’t go into the details of the results of the most recent research relating to this challenge other than to say that it involved testing different methods of freeze-drying the vaccine’s ingredients. In doing so, the researchers came up with an IPV (inactive polio vaccine) that works just as well as the one that had to be refrigerated, yet can be stored and be subjected to a high temperature (up to 37 degrees Celsius or 99 degrees Fahrenheit). How exciting is that!

As to how soon this technique will be available to the world we will have to wait to hear. But in the waiting let’s be thankful for those scientists and researchers for the work they do to protect us from pandemics such as we are experiencing now.

Finally, maybe now the world will finally be free of diseases such as polio that caused such havoc and put fear into the hearts of many.

Now we need to overcome COVID by doing our part in following the rules and mandates put out by the government and hope that a vaccine that is safe and effective will be available to all in the near future.

The information used in the above blog was sourced from mBio-an open access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology and an article by MIKE MCRAE  28 Nov 2018




And COVID19 Keeps On

Despite reminders to wear a mask, practice safe distancing, staying away from large crowds, washing one’s hands often, getting tested if one has any symptoms etc., the number of cases continues to grow throughout the world as well as here in Ontario.

Thankfully there are vaccine options in the works, but even when one is proven safe and effective, the logistics are many. Issues such as having enough for everyone and having it available within a reasonable time, and getting it safely to the public, are all concerns. The issue of storage and transportation of the vaccine is an important consideration.

Refrigeration was the one drawback of the Salk vaccine for polio, which was pronounced safe and effective in 1955. The Sabin vaccine, however, which became available in 1961 in the U.S., did not need refrigeration.

The Salk vaccine is given by injection, so trained staff are needed, whereas the Sabin vaccine is given orally, so it is cheaper to administer. This being the main reason it came to be the vaccine used in underdeveloped countries of the world. It also replaced the Salk vaccine in the U.S. for about 40 years after it was developed. But the U.S. changed back to using the Salk vaccine and has been doing so since 2000, thinking it is safer than the Sabin vaccine as there is no live virus in the Salk vaccine. Whereas the Sabin vaccine is based on a live, weakened form of the virus, so it has some risk of getting polio. Because of this, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is phasing out using the Sabin vaccine and is now using the Salk vaccine only. But the challenge remains with the fact it needs to be kept at 35-46 degrees Fahrenheit (2-8 degrees Celsius). However, If stored in this way, it can is still effective for four years.

But, the refrigeration issue remains to be a dilemma, so researchers are now experimenting, looking for possible ways to overcome this problem and maybe coming up with a possible solution. This is exciting news.

Today, one of the vaccine choices presently being considered for combating COVID-19 also has this problem of refrigeration and might benefit from these researchers’ findings.