Coronavirus Update: Is Polio Vaccine The New Cure?


While scientists around the world are working day and night to obtain an effective coronavirus vaccine soon, some experts claim that the existing vaccines might help in controlling the infection.

Scientists from the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland and School of Medicine advocated conducting tests to check if the polio vaccines, which protect children against a myriad of infections, are effective enough in dealing with coronavirus infection too. Konstantin Chumakov, the associate director for research at the vaccine division of FDA, and Dr. Robert Gallo, who co-discovered the virus that causes AIDS, came forward recommending the test to be conducted at least once.

“We propose the use of OPV (Oral Poliovirus Vaccine) to ameliorate or prevent COVID-19. Both poliovirus and Coronavirus are positive-strand RNA viruses; therefore, it is likely that they may induce and be affected by common innate immunity mechanisms,” they wrote in Science Magazine on Thursday.

According to them, the OPV could be effective in providing “temporary protection” against the infection. The team of scientists also stated that this vaccine is easily available and can be used again and again to fight against Coronavirus or other infections. The vaccine has herd immunity effects, which is prominent when 70 to 90 percent of a given population becomes immune to any infectious disease either because of being infected or successful recovery.

The polio vaccine is safe for use and is easily affordable. More than 1 billion doses are produced annually in over 140 countries, they stated.  According to scientists, the risks and complications associated with the vaccine are “extremely low.”

“Other live attenuated viral vaccines such as those against measles and smallpox have also been associated with pronounced nonspecific protective effects against infectious diseases,” the team wrote. They exemplified the statement citing Africa, where the overall mortality in children showed more than 50 percent decline as soon as the measles vaccine was introduced in the community.

Though the OPV seems to benefit coronavirus carriers, the vaccine is no longer licensed or available in the U.S., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms. In case the effectiveness of the vaccine is proved, it will once again become important to introduce the OPV in the U.S. as more than 2 million people in the nation have been infected with Coronavirus and approximately 114,000 lost their lives.

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