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A new report by two Delhi pediatricians suggests that the  sharp rise in childhood paralysis in India is due to the increased usage of the  oral polio vaccine, a drug that was banned in the U.S. over a decade ago.

Dr. Neetu Vashisht and Dr. Jacob Puliyel of St. Stephens  Hospital created the report after analyzing data from India’s 10-year-old  National Polio Surveillance Project, which is available  online. Their findings, which were published in the Indian Journal of  medical Ethics, revealed that rates of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis(NPAFP)  have increased 1200% since the oral polio vaccine was introduced to India a  decade ago.

The oral polio vaccine contains a live  polio virus and has been linked to polio-like paralysis. Polio vaccines used in  other countries do not include the live virus, but polio vaccines used in India  do.

The doctors provided other troubling  details in their report:

“In 2011, there were an extra 47500 new cases of NPAFP [in India].  Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the  incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio  received.”

Ajay Khera, the  Deputy Commissioner  for Child Health and Immunisation for the Ministry of Family and Health Welfare  (MHFW), downplayed the significance of the findings in an interview with Tehelka  News. In reference to the rise in paralysis cases, he said, “It’s not an  alert sign but indicative of the quality of the surveillance.”

However, increases in surveillance  quality over time do not explain the strong location-based correlation  discovered by Vashist and Puliyel. According to the report:

“In the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar, which have pulse  polio rounds nearly every month, the non-polio AFP rate is 25- and 35-fold  higher than the international norms.  The relationship of the non-polio AFP rate  is curvilinear with a more steep increase beyond six doses of OPV in one year.”

Vashist and Puliyel were also concerned  by the lack of attention that the polio survey administrators gave to the  paralysis results:

“Though this data was collected within the polio surveillance  system, it was not investigated… It is sad that, even after meticulous  surveillance, this large excess in the incidence of paralysis was not  investigated as a possible signal, nor was any effort made to try and study the  mechanism for this spurt in non-polio AFP.”

In addition, other  medical professionals are skepticalabout the claim that the paralysis cases  are not linked to polio. “Did they misclassify NPAFP when they denied that the  increase in vaccine doses is related to the increase in NPAFP cases?”asked Dr SK  Mittal, former professor and Head of Pediatrics at India’s Maulana Azad Medical  College.

Drug companies and regulators have long  known about the harmful effects of the oral polio vaccine that includes the live  virus. In 1976,  vaccine inventor Jonas Salk admitted to the United States  Congress that the live polio vaccine was the “principal if not sole cause” of  all reported polio cases in the U.S. since 1961, according  to Salem News.

The website for the U.S. Centers for  Disease Control (CDC) also describes the paralyzing  side effectsof the oral polio vaccine:

“From 1980 through 1999, there were 162 confirmed cases of paralytic  polio reported. Of the 162 cases, eight cases were acquired outside the United  States and imported… The remaining 154 cases were vaccine-associated paralytic  polio (VAPP) caused by live oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV).”

The debilitating – and sometimes deadly – side effects of the oral polio vaccine led the U.S. to stop using it in 2000,  the New  York Times reported. However, many governments around the world still  administer the dangerous vaccine to their citizens. Despite the grave concerns  that have been raised, the vaccine manufacturers and the health agencies they  have partnered with around the world are shifting the oral  polio vaccination effort into high gear – and there are no signs of  stopping

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