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Ukraine Becoming Europe’s Polio Bomb

Due to the local pharm lobby, this formerly developed country lags behind North Korea and Yemen in vaccinations

 
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According to a story by Maxim Tucker in the Guardian, Ukraine could be weeks away from becoming the only country in the world without protection from polio due to delays in licensing a new vaccine, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Health workers in Ukraine will be unable to continue inoculating with an older type of vaccine from April, when batches must be discontinued and destroyed.

<figcaption>Going from bad to worse</figcaption>
Going from bad to worse

“It’s the only country out of 155 still using the old vaccine,” said Dennis King, WHO Ukraine’s polio outbreak manager. “Unprotected children will disseminate the virus and that’s a risk to Europe.”

Ukraine is the only country not to have prepared for the worldwide switch from trivalent   oral polio vaccines to bivalent ones next month. North Korea will receive the vaccines despite its trade embargo, as will communities in Syria and Yemen.  “Even the targeted assassination of health workers, In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, is not going to stop eradication,” King said. But an outbreak in Ukraine would.

The French vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur said they had encountered an “extremely powerful” anti-vaccine movement, spearheaded by a healthcare lobbying group, and Ukraine’s licensing officials say they need up to 210 days to decide whether to register the new vaccines. France, Canada and the EU expressed concern that “corruption and baseless allegations against vaccines will lead to waste and abuse of donated funding for vaccines and leave children vulnerable”.

Ukraine is grappling with the first polio outbreak in Europe since 2010. Two children were paralysed in September and the WHO believes hundreds more could be infected. The Ukrainian council for patient’s rights and safety denied the outbreak, and its president, Viktor Serdyuk, then demanded that 3.7 million Unicef polio vaccines be destroyed or “given to a poorer country” because of a disagreement over how they had been stored.


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