About 395 cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (cMPV2) have been reported across 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Also, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) said no case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) has been reported anywhere in the country since the last incident in 2016.
In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, noted that the cMPV2 outbreak was caused by immunity gaps in children, stressing that suspension of immunisation programmes, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, further created new immunity gaps, leading to new outbreaks.
He said: “Nigeria and the African region were certified WPV free in 2020, following a rigorous verification and certification process by the African Regional Commission for Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, which spanned three. Till date, there has been no case of WPV anywhere in the country.
“Outbreaks of cMPV2 are caused by immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunisation coverage and missing of children during immunisation campaigns. The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunisation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps, which led to new and wider outbreaks and further increased transmission of the cMPV2 both globally and within Nigeria.”
According to Shuaib, “The virus thrives in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water. These have allowed the virus to be easily transmitted from one person to another through contaminated water and poor sewage disposal. Malnutrition, occasioned by increasing poverty, is also a predisposing factor in exposed children.”
He added: “Several other rounds of the OBR, as well as other campaigns to improve the mucosal immunity of children aged 0-5 years old, using Injectable Polio Vaccine, have also been planned for this year. Efforts are also being ramped up to increase routine immunisation coverage beyond pre-COVID values.”