Assessing the stability of polio eradication after the withdrawal of oral polio vaccine

April 27, 2018


The oral polio vaccine (OPV) contains live-attenuated polioviruses that induce immunity by causing low virulence infections in vaccine recipients and their close contacts. Widespread immunization with OPV has reduced the annual global burden of paralytic poliomyelitis by a factor of 10,000 or more and has driven wild poliovirus (WPV) to the brink of eradication. However, in instances that have so far been rare, OPV can paralyze vaccine recipients and generate vaccine-derived polio outbreaks. To complete polio eradication, OPV use should eventually cease, but doing so will leave a growing population fully susceptible to infection. If poliovirus is reintroduced after OPV cessation, under what conditions will OPV vaccination be required to interrupt transmission? Can conditions exist in which OPV and WPV reintroduction present similar risks of transmission? To answer these questions, we built a multi-scale mathematical model of infection and transmission calibrated to data from clinical trials and field epidemiology studies.