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Polio Back in India? Probe Launched After Virus-Carrying Vaccines Given to UP Children

The union health ministry has set up a three-member committee to probe if the virus, which was officially eradicated in India in March 2014, has resurrected with the three batches of polio vaccines containing 1.5 lakh vials.

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Updated:October 1, 2018, 9:35 AM IST
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Polio Back in India? Probe Launched After Virus-Carrying Vaccines Given to UP Children
A health worker marks the finger of a child after administering a polio vaccine (Reuters)
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New Delhi: India may lose its 'polio-free' status as at least three contaminated batches of vaccines have been found with type 2 virus. The matter came to light stool sample reports of some children in Uttar Pradesh showed signs of the virus.

The union health ministry has set up a three-member committee to probe if the virus, which was officially eradicated in India in March 2014, has resurrected with the three batches of polio vaccines containing 1.5 lakh vials.

"This is a very serious issue. The virus had been eradicated from the country, but these contaminated vials can undo all the great work that we have done so far," a senior official of the UP health department said.

The contaminated vaccines, manufactured by a Ghaziabad-based firm Biomed, have been administered in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana. After surveillance reports from UP hinted that the virus could have been reintroduced, the oral polio vaccines (OPV) were sent for testing, which confirmed that some of them were contaminated with type-2 virus.

The panel has been asked to submit its report within a week, while the director of Biomed was arrested on Thursday, confirmed Ghaziabad police. "Four more directors who have been named as accused in the case are currently absconding. The Drugs Controller of India filed an FIR in the case," the officer said.

The Drugs Controller General of India has also asked the company to stop "manufacture, sale or distribution till further orders".

India was officially declared to be "polio free" by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March 2014. The last case of the wild polio virus type 2 in the country was in 1999. But the country continues to have a robus monitoring system for polio, with all cases of paralysis with sudden onset in children up to 15 years being picked up by the network. Each of these cases is followed by a stool sample for the polio virus, while sewage samples are also collected from sites across the country for detection of the virus.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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