The all-too common vaccine failure story repeated itself in Pakistan yet again where two children reportedly got paralyzed with polio in Sindh province of the country. How a popular paper reported the news is worth watching.
On November 23, The News, which is one of the leading English dailies in Pakistan, published the story titled Two new cases cripple hopes of polio-free Pakistan. It told that two female children in Sindh – one 18-month and the other 11-month old – got paralysis in both legs but no information was included on where the children were tested for poliovirus – if at all – and what kind of poliovirus was found in their samples.
What is noteworthy in the story is the info that bot these baby girls were vaccinated multiple times with the polio drops – the controversial oral polio vaccine that has been long “discontinued” in the developed west because of health risks but is used in backward countries.
According to the paper, one of these new victims of paralysis had been given 7 doses of the polio vaccine drops and the other 8 doses, yet both came down with polio. Meaningfully, the WHO has not put a cap on the number of doses a child can be administered.
Now the interesting part is the story completely goes easy on what kind of poliovirus it was that affected these babies—a wild poliovirus or a vaccine-derived virus. For those who are not into the topic much, the oral polio vaccine (OPV) contains a live virus that can replicate and mutate in the body of the child and cause polio, leading to outbreaks in the community that was previously safe from the disease.
A number of outbreaks of polio have been recorded in near history with hundreds of confirmed cases of vaccine-derived polio, mainly in Nigeria but around the world as more recently in Ukraine, Laos, India, and Pakistan too. The authorities take no responsibility for infecting communities with the vaccine-derived virus and in fact create a self-defeating narrative of blaming the unvaccinated for the disease while they spread the virus among them via the vaccine.
For this reason, many papers, while reporting polio cases, don’ make mention of the vaccination status of the affected children lest the vaccine is revealed among the public as something ineffective and unsafe.