By Sunil Garodia
Through concerted efforts of the government and the citizens, India has become polio-free. But negligence in supervision threatens to reverse this. It has been reported that a strain of type-2 polio virus has been found in 1.5 lakh vials of three batches of polio vaccine manufactured by Biomed. It has been administered to children in UP, Telengana and Maharashtra.
It needs remembering that type-2 polio virus was withdrawn worldwide in April 2016. This immediately puts children born after that to a serious health risk as they are not immune to this virus. The virus was first detected by the WHO from stool samples in UP. Containment strategies will be put to severe test as the virus mutates in a few months and becomes immune to vaccination.
How the virus failed to be detected at the Central Drug Laboratory in Kasauli – where are drugs samples are sent for approval - is a mystery. It just shows that big loopholes exist in the regulatory framework and a chalta hai attitude is prevalent. It is a big challenge for India to identify children administered with the vaccine, see how far the virus has spread and put in place measures to stop it from spreading further. The children already affected also need to be treated.
This serious lapse shows that just achieving targets and boasting is not enough. In the absence of a strict regulatory framework, polio can make a comeback and threaten the future generations. India needs to drill in the heads of people running its manufacturing units and manning its laboratories and other regulatory checkpoints that playing with lives of people will not be tolerated at all.