Sindh, one of Pakistan's four provinces, launches its polio campaign today, with hopes of immunizing 7.4 million children against the virus. 22,000 teams of vaccinators (primarily volunteers assisted by local paramedics) have as their goal to vaccinate every child under 5 in every part of the province. To avoid any vaccine shortage, the teams have been provided with 7.4 million orally-administered (Sabin) doses as well as an additional 10 million as back-up.
Although there was not too much information listed in the article, this seems to be a very positive note in the step of worldwide polio eradication. Pakistan recorded a total of 198 cases in 2011 (as compared to just 1 in 2010); there have already been 5 cases recorded since the start of 2012. Numbers certainly point to the start of an epidemic in the region, and it is likely that there are far more people actually harboring the virus who haven't displayed any symptoms yet. It's too late for a vaccine to be able to help those who are already infected, but it would certainly help inhibit the spread of the virus. Selection of Pakistan to receive this high number of vaccine seems like a good application of typical outbreak containment strategy (high dosages of vaccine administered in the surrounding area of an emerging outbreak).
- Elena Higuchi