There May Be A New Polio Epidemic On Its Way- If So, What We Can Do: Part II

This is Part II in a series on the enteroviruses that appear to cause a polio-like neurological disease, Acute Flaccid Myelitis. The US still has no vaccine against the primary causative agent while China has three, with more in Asia on the way.

As case reports rise, Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) is a growing concern in the United States, heightened by the fact that we have yet to develop any vaccines or specifically targeted antiviral medications. Caused by an enterovirus in the poliovirus family, this neurological condition often results in weakening of the muscles and paralysis. However, the lack of success in vaccine production exhibited in the US is not mirrored in other parts of the world. In Asia, there are currently four vaccines in late stage clinical trials. These vaccines protect against EV-A71, an enterovirus very similar to EV-D68, the main culprit of Acute Flaccid Myelitis in the US.

Three of these vaccines are currently licensed for use in children in China, and a fourth targeting a different subgenotype performed very well in a phase 3 clinical trial in Taiwan and Vietnam. Successful prevention of this enterovirus across the world is very hopeful for our prevention efforts here in the United States. Polio, caused by an enterovirus in the same family, has shown us that prevention and eradication is possible. Hopefully we will be able to replicate the successful development of vaccines in Asia in the United States very soon.

Originally published on Forbes on June 20, 2022. Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.