Commentary September 16, 2020

How Polio Eradication in Africa Can Inform Global COVID-19 Response

An estimated 1.8 million African children have been spared crippling paralysis, and 180,000 lives have been saved. Lessons from this success can inform our global response to COVID-19.
A child receives a polio vaccine in Africa.

The global health community recently celebrated the eradication of wild poliovirus from the African continent.

We have come a long way in this worldwide effort. Wild poliovirus — not to be confused with the exceedingly rare instances of vaccine-derived poliovirus — was once present throughout the world. Today, it is endemic in only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Michele Barry and Lucas Oliver Oswald write in this Scope article that we should reflect on this achievement and on lessons learned from polio eradication that can be applied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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