World Health Organization: Vaccinations promise a polio-free world

The European office of the World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the importance of vaccination in eliminating polio.

World Health Organization: Vaccinations promise a polio-free world

The European office of the World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the importance of vaccination in eliminating polio. "In polio, like Covid-19 and the flu, vaccines can and do save lives," said WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge at an online press conference to mark World Polio Day on Monday. With the prospect of a polio-free world, he called on health authorities in Europe and Central Asia to keep working hard to fight polio.

This year marks 20 years since Europe was declared polio-free. Global case numbers have fallen by 99 percent since the 1980s. One can thus celebrate a truly significant success, said Kluge. Thanks to vaccinations, polio is about to be a thing of the past. "We are on the verge of eradicating polio, making it only the second disease after smallpox to be passed down into history."

Despite the progress, the situation remains fragile, he said, citing polioviruses that have emerged in Israel, Ukraine and Britain. They go back to the oral vaccination with weakened but live polio pathogens. In Germany there are other vaccines. The Standing Committee on Vaccination continues to recommend polio vaccination.

Polio is a contagious, infectious disease that can cause paralysis and death. Permanent damage can remain, especially in small children. The highly contagious virus is often spread through contaminated water. According to the WHO, around ten billion doses of vaccine have been administered in the past ten years. According to them, without this effort, 6.5 million children would have contracted polio.

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