Updated on 24 April 2013
With no live case being reported in over two years in India, the OPV program will soon be phased out. Dr Jacob John, advisor, committee on Global Polio Eradication, WHO; virologist at CMC, Vellore; and a renowned authority on the polio eradication effort in India, explained the current scenario.
He said, "Studies have shown that continued use of OPV will give rise to cases of vaccine derived polio virus, such as those that are emerging in some areas of Afghanistan. The strategic plan for 2013-18 has already been drawn out. The general idea is that there will be a universal introduction of the IPV after 2015, along with a synchronized removal of OPV."
Currently, one of the main challenges to using injectible polio vaccine (IPV) is the cost of $2.66 per dose, as compared to $0.14 for OPV. Industry experts suggest that OPV production will not stop completely, but rather be given along with IPV in a one-out-of-three doses or one-out-of-two-dose scheme, in the beginning of the new effort. A number of manufacturers worldwide are working towards reducing the cost of a single dose of IPV to less than a dollar, so that the transition is smooth and simultaneous around the world without cost being a barrier.
The eventual introduction of IPV into the Universal Immunization Programme could also herald the popularity of hexavalent vaccines, something which a number of Indian companies including Shantha Biotechnics are working on in their pipelines. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) recently initiated a joint venture with Hyderabad-based Biological E for a hexavalent vaccine development for the developing world. This 50-50 joint venture will be focused on early stage R&D and will utilize GSK's brand of IPV. Biological E has already been one of the largest suppliers of Diptheria Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) vaccines to the Indian government for their immunization programmes.