Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease transmitted by contaminated drinking water and sewage. There are three types of wild polioviruses: serotype 1, 2, and 3. The polioviruses replicate in the gastrointestinal tract and further invade the nervous system, and can cause permanent limb paralysis. While polio can strike at any age, it mainly affects children under age 5. Vaccination against polio is the best way to prevent polio disease. There are two types of vaccines currently used against polio—a live oral polio vaccine (OPV) delivered as oral drops, and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) delivered via injection. Due to global vaccinations and improved sanitary conditions, the world is very close to eradicating polio. Over 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988 and the number of polio cases per year is down by 99 percent. Currently the poliovirus serotype 2 has been eradicated globally and types 1 and 3 combined cause fewer than two hundred cases worldwide. While there has been remarkable progress in polio eradication, more affordable vaccines are needed to complete the job of eradicating polio and maintain protection post eradication.
Poliomyelitis: Intensification of the Global Eradication Initiative (2012)
A resolution from the Executive Board of the World Health Organization that calls for a redoubled effort to complete the "end game" of polio eradication.
Inactivated Polio Vaccine Development for Technology Transfer Using Attenuated Sabin Poliovirus Strains to Shift From Salk-IPV to Sabin-IPV (2011)
An article that present a short history of one of the first cell-culture based large-scale biological production processes and the roadmap towards the development of Sabin-inactivated poliovirus vaccine.
Featured PATH resources
More About Polio (2012)
A web page that provides an overview of polio, a snapshot of the current vaccine landscape, and links to additional information about the disease.
Improving the Affordability of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccines (IPV) for Use in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Economic Analysis of Strategies to Reduce the Cost of Routine IPV Immunization (2010)
A report that presents results from an economic model that calculates the costs of delivering IPV vaccine in India.
Page last updated: November 2012.