Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) tender pricing announced

WHO/F. Guerrero

Moving from the oral polio vaccine to an inactivated and injectable polio vaccine (IPV) is crucial to ensure a polio-free world by 2018. Endorsed by the World Health Assembly, The Global Polio Eradication Initiative's (GPEI) Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, calls for the introduction of IPV to boost global immunity and accelerate the eradication of remaining polioviruses.

Currently, 125 countries use only trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV), a live vaccine. According to the Endgame Strategic Plan, these countries should introduce a dose of inactivated polio vaccine in their immunization schedule by the end of 2015. Adding at least one dose of inactivated polio vaccine to routine immunization programmes will improve immunity and help prevent new vaccine-associated outbreaks.

The higher cost of the inactivated injectable vaccine has been an obstacle for the countries still using trivalent oral polio vaccine. On 28 February, however, UNICEF announced that the price of the inactivated polio vaccine would be reduced for some low- and middle-income countries, as well as other eligible countries.

“With the support of partners, the inactivated polio vaccine has now become more affordable for 17 countries in the Western Pacific Region,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “More than 21 million children in the Region will benefit from the introduction of the inactivated vaccine. This will help us not only maintain our Region’s polio-free status, but also contribute to worldwide eradication by 2018.”

The Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) will provide support for IPV introduction in Cambodia, Kiribati, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Viet Nam. China, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, the Philippines, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu may consider other options for vaccine purchase either directly from manufacturers or through UNICEF. All these countries and areas will now be able to proceed immediately with IPV introduction plans.

Importation of wild poliovirus from the few remaining polio-endemic countries continues to threaten the Western Pacific Region’s polio-free status and worldwide eradication efforts. The Endgame Strategic Plan to end polio by 2018 has four objectives: 1) Detect and interrupt all poliovirus transmission; 2) Strengthen immunization systems and withdraw oral polio vaccine; 3) Contain poliovirus and certify interruption of transmission; and 4) Plan polio’s legacy (ensuring that the investment in polio eradication provides public health dividends for years to come).

In 2000, the Western Pacific Region, home to more than a quarter of the world’s population, was the second WHO region to be certified polio-free. The Region has successfully maintained its polio-free status; however, continued vigilance is necessary. Until virus transmission is completely stopped in polio-endemic countries, polio-free regions remain at risk.

“Threats of wild poliovirus reappearance are ongoing globally,” explained Dr Mark Jacobs, Director, Division of Combating Communicable Diseases for the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific. “In our Region, for instance, cases of imported poliovirus were detected from 2006 to 2012 in Singapore, Australia and China. These and other examples in the Horn of Africa, Syria and Cameroon highlight the urgency of achieving global polio eradication.”

Thanks to decades of global efforts, polio is currently endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Progress in these countries holds the promise of ending polio worldwide. Supported by GPEI, Member States continue to address the remaining challenges to worldwide eradication. With the new pricing, countries will now be able to meet the 2015 deadline to include IPV in their immunization schedule, and accelerate efforts towards achieving a polio-free world by 2018.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Mark Jacobs
Director, Division of Combating Communicable Diseases, WHO WPRO
Telephone: +63 2 528 9701

Mr Ruel Serrano
Public Information Office, WHO WPRO
Telephone: +63 2 528 9993

Joan Howe
Communication Specialist, Supply Division, UNICEF
Telephone: + 45 45 33 57 27