The Polio Global Eradication Initiative (PGEI), founded in 1988 by the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, holds up India as a prime example of its success at eradicating polio, stating on its website (Jan. 11 2012) that “India has made unprecedented progress against polio in the last two years and on 13 January, 2012, India will reach a major milestone — a 12-month period without any case of polio being recorded.”
This report, however, is highly misleading, as an estimated 100-180 Indian children are diagnosed with vaccine-associated polio paralysis (VAPP) each year. In fact, the clinical presentation of the disease, including paralysis, caused by VAPP is indistinguishable from that caused by wild polioviruses, making the PGEI’s pronouncements all the more suspect.1
According to the Polio Global Eradication Initiative’s own statistics2 there were 42 cases of wild-type polio (WPV) reported in India in 2010, indicating that vaccine-induced cases of polio paralysis (100-180 annually) outnumber wild-type cases by a factor of 3-4. Even if we put aside the important question of whether or not the PGEI is accurately differentiating between wild and vaccine-associated polio cases in their statistics, we still must ask ourselves: should not the real-world effects of immunization, both good and bad, be included in PGEI’s measurement of success? For the dozens of Indian children who develop vaccine-induced paralysis every year, the PGEI’s recent declaration of India as nearing “polio free” status, is not only disingenuous, but could be considered an attempt to minimize their obvious liability in having transformed polio from a natural disease vector into a man-made (iatrogenic) one.