USC researchers have developed freeze-dried polio vaccine. It was freeze-dried into a powder, kept at room temperature for four weeks and then rehydrated, offered full protection against the polio virus when tested in mice.
Polio is nearing complete eradication and had just 22 reported cases worldwide in 2017. The highly infectious disease, which causes lifelong paralysis and disability mostly in young children, is a fading memory in many places. Yet in countries where vaccination rates are spotty, young children are at risk.
The biggest hitch to complete eradication has been creating a temperature-stable vaccine for use in developing countries where refrigeration may be unavailable. Recent polio cases have been reported in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Syria and Pakistan.
Benefit of Eliminating Polio
Successful and sustained eradication of polio carries significant humanitarian and economic benefits: with no child ever again suffering polio paralysis, and upwards of US$ 50 billion saved, those funds can be used to address other public health needs.
Failure to sustain eradication would have significant consequences, however, with global resurgence of the disease, and as many as 200 000 new cases every single year, all over the world, within a period of ten years. That is why full implementation of resolution WHA71.16 on containment of polioviruses is so important.