The global initiative to eradicate polio claims that it is meeting gridlock with worldwide laboratories which refuse to confiscate old polio samples. The samples stored are that of an extinct version of polio which opponents of the storing say could be released “accidentally” to the world and reintroduced as a dangerous illness.
There are at least 99 facilities holding type 2 polioviruses samples who refuse to destroy them, including vaccine manufacturing plants.
A former World Health Organization employee who ran the polio program, Dr. David Heymann, says that the amount of labs refusing to destroy samples is “more than what was anticipated.”
No one seems to understand why these labs want to hold on to extinct polio samples. There is a vote on a resolution at the World Health Assembly that many people hope changes this protocol.
The WHO’s top polio official, Michel Zaffran, claims “We were making no progress” in regards to polio containment so long as these samples are alive and well in labs throughout the world.
There are three types of polio, versions 1 through 3. The type 2 version was last noted as a case in 1999 and recently it was declared extinct. However, new revelations that labs around the world refuse to destroy remaining samples has many fearing that the “eradication” or “extinction” isn’t truly that.
The powers that be claim they are unable to limit the number of places which store and sometimes worth with type 2 Polio. Experts claim this could mean an “accidental” release of the eradicated version of polio.
If you believe this is all the production of fear-mongering, you might think again. Last year two polio vaccine lab workers in the Netherlands were accidentally exposed to polio. A 2014 incident in Belgium found that 45 liters of concentrated poliovirus were dumped into the local sewage system.
And “accidents” unwisely and unwittingly rules out the concept of the nefarious release of the virus. I mean, we all should be considering that potential play, right? It isn’t exactly a far-fetched idea to think that a lab would intentionally reintroduce the virus into a modern society.
Oddly, labs were supposed to eliminate these polio samples as soon as extinction was declared, but as the years have passed, it’s been made clear that won’t be the plan. What’s even worse is that not only are many labs storing the live polioviruses, but they are also often storing biological samples such as stool and respiratory tract mucus that could contain live viruses.
“Obviously we think that with a bit more encouragement and discussion, some of these research laboratories will agree that they don’t need to handle this virus,” Zaffran said. “But at the moment, there is no voluntary movement on the part of these labs. Even if they don’t do research at the moment, they hold inventories of samples which they don’t necessarily want to destroy or give away.”