Community transmission of type 2 poliovirus

July 7, 2017


Trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) was replaced worldwide from April, 2016, by bivalent types 1 and 3 oral polio vaccine (bOPV) and one dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) where available. The risk of transmission of type 2 poliovirus or Sabin 2 virus on re-introduction or resurgence of type 2 poliovirus after this switch is not understood completely. We aimed to assess the risk of Sabin 2 transmission after a polio vaccination campaign with a monovalent type 2 oral polio vaccine (mOPV2).

We did an open-label cluster-randomised trial in villages in the Matlab region of Bangladesh. We randomly allocated villages (clusters) to either: tOPV at age 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks; or bOPV at age 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks and either one dose of IPV at age 14 weeks or two doses of IPV at age 14 weeks and 18 weeks. After completion of enrolment, we implemented an mOPV2 vaccination campaign that targeted 40% of children younger than 5 years, regardless of enrolment status. The primary outcome was Sabin 2 incidence in the 10 weeks after the campaign in per-protocol infants who did not receive mOPV2, as assessed by faecal shedding of Sabin 2 by reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). The effect of previous immunity on incidence was also investigated with a dynamical model of poliovirus transmission to observe prevalence and incidence of Sabin 2 virus. This trial is registered at, number NCT02477046.

Between April 30, 2015, and Jan 14, 2016, individuals from 67 villages were enrolled to the study. 22 villages (300 infants) were randomly assigned tOPV, 23 villages (310 infants) were allocated bOPV and one dose of IPV, and 22 villages (329 infants) were assigned bOPV and two doses of IPV. Faecal shedding of Sabin 2 in infants who did not receive the mOPV2 challenge did not differ between children immunised with bOPV and one or two doses of IPV and those who received tOPV (15 of 252 [6%] vs six of 122 [4%]; odds ratio [OR] 1·29, 95% CI 0·45–3·72; p=0·310). However, faecal shedding of Sabin 2 in household contacts was increased significantly with bOPV and one or two doses of IPV compared with tOPV (17 of 751 [2%] vs three of 353 [1%]; OR 3·60, 95% CI 0·82–15·9; p=0·045). Dynamical modelling of within-household incidence showed that immunity in household contacts limited transmission.

In this study, simulating 1 year of tOPV cessation, Sabin 2 transmission was higher in household contacts of mOPV2 recipients in villages receiving bOPV and either one or two doses of IPV, but transmission was not increased in the community as a whole as shown by the non-significant difference in incidence among infants. Dynamical modelling indicates that transmission risk will be higher with more time since cessation.

Fig. 2

Sabin 2 shedding after mOPV2 challenge in infants who received mOPV2 bOPV=bivalent types 1 and 3 oral polio vaccine. IPV=inactivated polio vaccine. mOPV2=monovalent type 2 oral polio vaccine. tOPV=trivalent oral polio vaccine. (A) Prevalence of Sabin 2 shedding in infants who received tOPV or bOPV and IPV (one or two doses) as routine immunisation. (B) Violin plots showing the concentrations of poliovirus excreted in faeces by infants during the first 10 weeks. Black line indicates the median concentration and coloured shading the kernel density estimate of the distribution of values.