As Pakistan reports polio cases, UAE vaccine campaign reaches over 28 million
The United Arab Emirates announced on Friday that it administered over 28 million polio vaccine doses in Pakistan, which continues to report polio cases.
Pakistan has been labeled the ‘final frontier for polio eradication’ by experts.
The doses were administered over the past three months and reached over 16 million children, according to state news agency WAM.
The initiative is part of the Emirates Polio Campaign, launched in 2014 under the directives of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The announcement coincided with World Polio Day and the reporting of two new polio cases in Pakistan, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Polio is still endemic in three countries in the world: Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.
Pakistan, which has been labeled the “final frontier for global polio eradication” by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, has recorded 79 wild polio cases so far in 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Last year the country reported 147 cases, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Immunization campaigns in Pakistan are challenged by a portion of the population refusing to take the vaccine due to misconceptions about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under 5 years of age and is transmitted by person-to-person, according to the WHO.
While there are three strains of the wild poliovirus, wild poliovirus type 1 is the strain that affects Pakistan.
Pakistan’s neighbor India officially eradicated polio in 2014.
Pakistan is also battling a coronavirus outbreak, which has infected over 327,000 Pakistanis. Over 6,700 people in Pakistan have died as a result of COVID-19.
The country has performed over 4.2 million coronavirus tests.