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Rise in new cases of polio in Pakistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last two countries where poliovirus is still endemic. In 2020 while the world is busy fighting against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic which spread globally from China, Pakistan is still struggling to tackle polio. The total number of polio cases this year reached 72 as cases are beign reported consistently from regions of Balochistan and Punjab.

According to Dawn News, seven of the children with polio had the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type-2 (cVDPV2). The 'outbreak' of cVDPV2 in Pakistan is a cause of serious concern for global health organizations as Pakistan is among a few countries reporting such cases, which have almost been eliminated globally.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cVDPV remains a menace as it is one of the main causes of re-emergence of polio due to vaccination refusal by many communities in Pakistan owing to rumors and misconceptions.

The cVDPV2 was eradicated in 1999, leading to the withdrawal of the polio type 2 vaccines from the worldwide anti-polio programme by the WHO in 2016. The programme officials may have dumped this vaccine instead of destroying them as per global protocols, resulting in the resurgence of cVDPV2 cases, which is an alarming sign for Pakistan.

Pakistan is classified by the International Health Regulations (IHR) as a state infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with potential risk of international spread, with potential risk of international spread. Pakistan's irresponsible behavior towards Polio can cause reemergence of polio worldwide.