A recent Polio type 2 outbreak in Africa led to the authorization of a novel polio vaccine, which has to date vaccinated over 80 million children across six African countries: Nigeria, Benin, Congo, Liberia, Niger, and Sierra Leone.
Africa was declared free of wild polio in August 2020; however, outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio type 2 remained. So in November 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) authorized the novel polio vaccine (nOPV2) for Emergency Use, helping tens of millions of children.
“Africa’s trailblazing rollout of the novel polio vaccine shows a true determination to ending polio for good,” says Dr. Pascal Mkanda, Polio Eradication Program Coordinator at WHO Regional Office for Africa, in a statement.
Due to the initial vaccine rollout being one of Emergency Use, countries had to fulfill 25 different criteria in order to receive the vaccine. Since then, ongoing research and data collections have made it possible for the WHO to declare that broader use of nOPV2 is now possible. With this new status, countries now only need to fulfill 16 criteria, allowing for six more African countries – Ethiopia, Mauritania, Nigeria, The Gambia, Senegal, and Uganda – and approximately 30 million more children to receive this needed polio protection, a win for the committed African continent in its quest for polio eradication.