Polio, a virus once thought to be a thing of the past, recently resurfaced in sewage in New York State. Politico kindly explained that this recent outbreak is, in fact, a form of “vaccine-derived poliovirus.” And the term, while technically true, is “particularly ingenious and confusing” and should not be used. As the Yale School of Medicine says, “there are many nuances” on the subject. To translate from public health jargon into plain English, this means: Get it out of your system now because you’ll likely be banned from social media next month.
So what is vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) anyway, and is it something you should be concerned about? Here are some key points.
Transmitted by the vaccinated to the unvaccinated
There are two types of polio vaccines. One, given by injection, uses an inactivated virus and is known as IPV. The other is an oral vaccine, which uses a weakened but not fully inactivated strain, and is known as OPV. OPV, the original polio vaccine that you may remember getting if you’re of a certain age, was widely used in America for decades. It’s cheap, easy for anyone to administer, and offers strong virus protection. However, because it was not inactivated, it could cause paralytic poliomyelitis in some recipients and was not safe to administer to immunocompromised people or their close contacts. Because of these problems, America, like most Western nations, switched to the safer inactivated IPV vaccine injection decades ago.
As our overworked fact-checkers are learning to their chagrin, it turns out there’s another big problem with the OPV vaccine: vaccine-derived polioviruses. When immunodeficient people are exposed to the weakened OPV version of the disease, the virus can remain in the gut for years, slowly mutating into new strands, which can then emerge and spread to infect others.
The good news? If your children have been vaccinated against polio with IPV, they are safe from any frightening polio symptoms even when variants derived from the oral vaccine appear in your town. A frightening resurgence of polio is unlikely in America as long as traditional childhood vaccination rates remain stable. On the other hand, given that we are facing a catastrophic loss of trust in the public health community due to a long train of abuses, such as the frightening push to inflict unnecessary experimental vaccines on children, perhaps we won’t be able to count on those. traditional vaccination rates are maintained for a long time.
However, even if you have the short straw and live in a country whose public health authorities are notoriously incompetent, you are likely to be safe. Because?
Spread only from poor countries
Fortunately, all advanced countries adopted the inactivated IPV vaccine years ago, so there is no threat that variants derived from the OPV vaccine will cause problems, even if vaccination rates in these countries decline. The only nations that still use the OPV vaccine are the undeveloped ones, as it is much cheaper and requires much less medical infrastructure to administer. Current nations that use OPV and are at risk of developing vaccine-derived polioviruses include places like Afghanistan and Yemen.
Given that there is now a growing awareness worldwide of the spread of these vaccine-derived variants, you needn’t worry: any responsible country will, of cousezealously guards its borders to ensure that travelers from these countries are carefully screened before entering.
In short, the only conceivable scenario in which the forgotten scourge of polio could resurface in the United States would be some kind of dystopian convergence of elite mismanagement: a crisis of credibility for vaccine spokespeople combined with wide-open borders . Sound familiar?
On the other hand, polio spreads through the fecal-oral route. So if it comes to your neighborhood, you won’t need to wear a mask.