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New Polio Variant Hits 13 States, FCT In Nigeria - Experts

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A new polio variant, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) has breakout in several communities within the country one year after the country was certified polio-free. It was reported that the cVDPV is contracted as a result of many factors, including refusing to take the shots or not completing polio vaccines.

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.

Renowned virologist and past president of the Nigeria Academy of Science, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, noted that 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.

Prof Sunday Omilabu, a virologist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said insurgency particularly in the North East, unrest in other parts of the country and the COVID-19 lockdown prevented many children from assessing polio vaccination. He said the disruption had created a gap in immunization coverage which led to the spread of the cVDPV2 in communities.

According to him, healthcare workers were unwilling to give children vaccines because they were afraid they could get killed or kidnapped like their colleagues, adding that with this, there were possibilities that children would come down with vaccine-derived strain.

The last case of wild poliovirus was detected in Nigeria in 2016 before the recent outbreak of cVDPV2.

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