A viral message on social media claims that children up to the age of five should not be administered the oral polio vaccine, owing to a strain of contaminated virus being found in some batches of the vaccine.
The message reads:
“News on TV says that tomorrow do not give polio dose for kids up to 5 years as some virus has been found in them, and the owner of the company who manufactures it has been arrested by the police. Inform everyone in family as well as those who have babies. Do not give oral polio dose to the baby till next update.”
The message has gone viral on Twitter, and Facebook.
TRUE OR FALSE?
Partially true. While the vaccine has been contaminated with the virus, it is not 'unsafe' for administration.
WHAT IS TRUE? THE CONTAMINATION
The message has gone viral in the context of The Times of India report, which claims that some batches of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) manufactured by a Ghaziabad-based firm Biomed, was found to have been contaminated with strains of the type 2 polio virus. The company’s managing director has since been arrested.
The contamination was reportedly discovered when a surveillance check in Uttar Pradesh threw up signs of the virus in the stool samples of some children. Over 50,000 vials are under consideration, reported the daily.
Speaking to the daily, a senior official of the Health Ministry said that the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have been alerted, where these vials may have been used.
THE OPV IS STILL SAFE
However, the contamination does not mean that the OPV is unsafe for administration. Speaking to The Quint, Dr Jyoti Joshi from the Center of Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDEP) said Biomed was only one of the many manufacturers employed by the government, and that the OPV would continue to remain safe for administration.
"There is nothing to panic about, the Ministry has several other manufactueres, who have not faced this breach. Children should continue to be vaccinated, as polio is a larger threat to the country," said Dr Joshi.
Further, the Ministry of Health too has reportedly released a statement, claiming that the situation was under constant surveillance.
“The recipients of such vaccine will usually shed the vaccine virus through fecal route for about 4-6 weeks after which it will die down. In small areas where such vials were used, polio surveillance in the environment and through stool collection has been significantly enhanced by MoHFW, with support from WHO and partners to keep constant vigil on the shedding of the polio vaccine virus”
Dr Joshi also clarified that the first step in case of any breach of this sort would be to retract the affected batches.
“The Ministry has a very rigourous logistical system, that is how the breach has been identified in the first place. Now the batches are being recalled, there is a very systematic process behind this. Even if one side misses, the strong duplicate check mechanism has worked.”
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