The world is desperately waiting for a coronavirus vaccine since the pandemic started earlier this year. Some countries are racing to put a vaccine in the market against the novel virus. However, some experts suggested resorting to an older vaccine for the time being.
A health expert team mentioned the use of a polio vaccine against the coronavirus. The polio vaccine is known to protect against several diseases when inoculated in children. The experts believe that it should also be tried for protection against the coronavirus.
A polio vaccine is administered orally and easily accessible. It is available at a cheap cost and widely used in over 140 countries around the world. Also, there are 1 billion doses of the polio vaccine produced annually. Hence, the manufacture of the vaccine to administer in a large population is not a problem for this particular vaccine.
The health experts’ team who suggested the use of the polio vaccine includes a prominent scientist. The scientist is an expert on vaccines at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and also discovered HIV.
The polio vaccine successfully eradicated polio from the world. The vaccine consists of an attenuated poliovirus which provides immunity against the disease. It provides effective and long-lasting immunity against polio. Therefore, it is administered once in life, during early childhood.
The manufacture of the polio vaccine is a slow process and some companies are trying to improve it. The modern vaccines consist of a portion of the DNA or RNA of the virus. While the polio vaccine consists of a whole live weakened virus.
Konstantin Chumakov, the vaccine expert from the FDA is the part of the experts’ team. He said the polio vaccine should be tried against the coronavirus virus. There is a possibility that it protects against Covid-19.
Dr. Robert Gallo is an expert at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland. Dr. Gallo and his colleagues also suggested testing the vaccine against the novel virus.
The experts wrote that the OPV (oral polio vaccine) can potentially provide immunity to the coronavirus. They suggested testing OPV as a coronavirus vaccine since there is no vaccine against the virus available in the market.
They also said that the polio vaccine and the novel coronavirus have the common genetic material. Both viruses consist of positive-strand RNA. Hence, both viruses may induce the same immune response in the body. They proposed to use the oral polio vaccine to provide temporary immunity to Covid-19.
The OPV is known to provide herd immunity in a population against the poliovirus. A population develops herd immunity when 70-90% of the individuals become immune to the virus. The immunity can be achieved either through vaccination or a previous infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the polio vaccine Is not currently used or available in the US. However, it is widely used in many countries. Children are administered this vaccine orally to prevent polio later in life.
The coronavirus hit the US hard with millions of cases and more than 114,000 fatalities. The experts are uncertain about the availability of coronavirus vaccine this year or even next year. In the meantime, the polio vaccine can provide temporary protection against the deadly virus.