1.5 lakh oral polio vaccine vials have been found to be contaminated by Type 2 poliovirus. The vaccines were administered to children in Maharashtra and Telengana, besides Uttar Pradesh, Health Ministry officials confirmed.
The vials were manufactured by a Ghaziabad-based pharmaceutical company.
This has put at risk India’s “polio free” status as children born after April 2016 — when the type 2 virus was withdrawn worldwide including in India — do not have immunity to this particular virus, sources said.
However, according to reports, the health ministry has claimed that the polio vaccine contamination poses no risk of infection.
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The ministry has issued advisories to the three states to ensure that polio surveillance teams trace the children who have been given the contaminated vaccines.
The surveillance teams have also been asked to step up the monitoring of the children and keep a close watch for any symptoms. It needs to be seen how the virus behaves, a Health Ministry official said.
The government had set up a committee to probe the contamination of some batches of the vaccine.
“There is a well defined surveillance mechanism in the country to identify any symptoms of polio in the affected places and the government is in a position to address any eventuality.
“There is no need to panic. The polio surveillance team in the three states have been asked to step up the monitoring of all those children who have been given the vaccine and keep a close watch for any symptoms,” the official said.
The Health Ministry, under its national immunisation programme, will also ensure that inactivated polio virus (IPV) injections are being administered to every children in the places concerned of the three states so that no child is missed, the official said.
IPV is produced from wild-type poliovirus strains of each serotype that have been inactivated (killed) with formalin.
Till now, only one batch containing 50, 000 vials were found contaminated with the strains of the type-2 polio virus till now, a senior health ministry official said.
Two more batches of vials containing 1 lakh vials are suspected to be contaminated with the virus, the official said.
The incident came to light after surveillance reports from Uttar Pradesh showed signs of the virus in stool samples of some children.
The ministry has also ordered immediate withdrawal of the particular manufacturer’s vaccine.
The managing director of Biomed Pvt Ltd, which was supplying the polio vaccines for only government-run immunisation programmes, was arrested last week after the Central Drug Regulator filed an FIR in this case.
The Central Drug Regulator has also asked the company to stop “manufacture, sale or distribution till further orders.”
The destruction of traces of type-2 polio virus was ordered by the Drugs Controller General of India to all manufacturers in 2016.
India was officially declared “polio free” by the government in March 2014.
(With PTI inputs)