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Gunmen Kill Policeman Escorting Polio Workers in Pakistan | US News.

[Jan. 12, 2021, at 3:14 a.m.] [Associated Press, Wire Service Content]

The Associated Press

A healthcare worker administers a polio vaccine to a child in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Despite a steady rise in coronavirus cases, Pakistan on Monday launched a five-day vaccination campaign against polio amid tight security, hoping to eradicate the crippling children's disease this year. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (AP) — Gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot and killed a policeman in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday as he escorted a team of polio workers.

The attack in the district of Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province came on the second day of a nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaign that Pakistani authorities launched in an effort to eradicate the crippling disease by the end of the year.

The polio workers on the team in Karak escaped unharmed, according to local police officer Irfan Khan. A search for the attackers who fled the scene was underway, he added. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan regularly launches polio drives. It had hoped to eliminate polio back in 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But in the years since there has been an uptick in new cases. The latest five-day anti-polio drive started Monday, with the goal to vaccinate 40 million children across Pakistan.

Militants often target polio teams and police assigned to protect them. The Pakistani Taliban claim the campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan are the only two remaining countries in the world where polio is endemic, after Nigeria was last year declared free of the wild polio virus.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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India: Pune: Pulse polio vaccination postponed indefinitely | Hindustan Times.

[PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 02:32 PM IST] Steffy Thevar writes:

In view of the upcoming large-scale Covid-19 vaccination drive, the central government has postponed the National Pulse Polio vaccination drive indefinitely.

The pulse polio vaccination drive covers all children under the age of five years. Every year, the pulse polio vaccination begins on January 17, however this year the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination will begin on January 16 and so the polio drive has been postponed.

Dr Bhagwan Pawar, district health officer for Pune district said, “We have got a letter that the pulse polio vaccination drive has been postponed indefinitely as no replacement date has been mentioned. The pulse polio vaccination was to start from January 17.”

Dr Archana Patil, director of health services, Maharashtra said, “We vaccinate close to two crore kids in the state alone every year in these five days from January 17 to January 22.”

Earlier, the PMC had stated that with two major vaccination drives beginning around the same time, the civic body would face a shortage of manpower as schools and colleges are shut.

The Covid-19 vaccination would go on for almost six months as close to 44 lakh people will be administered the dose twice. In order of priority, the health care workers, frontline workers, those with comorbidity and senior citizens will be given first preference.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had earlier planned the polio drive wherein about 3.08 lakh kids were to be vaccinated in these six days.

Despite no cases of wild polio reported since 2009, India has not yet been officially declared as polio-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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Polio in Afghanistan: a changing landscape | The Lancet.

[This article is available free of charge. Simply login to access the full article, or register for free if you do not yet have a username and password] [Published:January 09, 2021]

Opening Paragraphs:

Resurgent violence and the COVID-19 pandemic have set back polio programmes in Afghanistan. Sophie Cousins reports from Kandahar.

A couple of months ago, in a mud-brick home in southern Afghanistan, 18-month-old Hazarat developed a fever, along with vomiting. On the third night, things drastically worsened when his left leg stopped working.

From his village surrounded by barren mountains, his mother took him to a hospital in Kandahar city night after night. On the third night, doctors were resigned to the fact that Hazarat was very likely to have had acquired polio. The doctors took a stool sample and sent it to a laboratory in Islamabad, Pakistan. 1 month later, their suspicions were confirmed. He had acquired the virus after vaccinations had been halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We don't care about polio. This was the order of Allah. He created this boy and if Allah wants to disable him, fine. Only his one leg is not working. We hope that this problem will be solved. I hope his leg will start working”, his mother said.

The first recorded polio epidemic was in Sweden in the 1880s, although inscriptions in Egypt suggest the disease dates back to ancient times. The highly infectious virus, which predominantly affects children younger than 5 years and can cause paralysis, went on to spread throughout the world, taking victims at every turn.

Copyright © 2021 Sophie Cousins

In 1988, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution for the worldwide eradication of polio, which at the time caused more than 350 000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries. Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was set up, the global incidence of polio has decreased by 99·9%, with an estimated 16 million people walking today who would otherwise have been paralysed and more than 1·5 million are alive who would otherwise not be.

Africa was declared free of wild poliovirus in August, 2020. Today, the virus remains endemic in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. But there is a growing realisation of the devastating effect the COVID-19 pandemic could have on global efforts to eradicate the disease.

Polio vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan were halted in March, 2020, for several months as the country went into lockdown. When the campaign resumed in August, for many children like Hazarat, it was too late. Mohammed Mohammedi, UNICEF'S chief of immunisation for the polio programme, said that the decision to halt vaccinations was “a precautionary measure”.

“We were afraid that we'd contribute to the spread of COVID-19 and that the community wouldn't understand why we're taking extra risks”, he said. “We didn't want to replace one virus with another.”

As mass vaccination campaigns were shut down, polio vaccinators were mobilised in communities across the country to spread COVID-19 public health messages.

In 2020, 56 polio cases were reported in Afghanistan; in 2019 the figure was 29. Although the figure might appear low, it is the highest number on record for years. The disease is predominantly still found in southern parts of the country where vaccination programmes are difficult, if not impossible, to conduct because of ongoing conflict. But what concerns experts most is the spread of the virus to areas that had previously not recorded any cases for years. COVID-19 has altered the polio landscape. UNICEF estimates that 50 million children in Afghanistan and Pakistan missed out on vaccines in 2020 because of the disruption in immunisation due to the pandemic.

[Continue reading in source article]

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Masks and Face Coverings for the Lay Public - A Narrative Update | Annals of Internal Medicine.

[Open Access] [29 December 2020]


Whether and when to mandate the wearing of facemasks in the community to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 remains controversial. Published literature across disciplines about the role of masks in mitigating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission is summarized. Growing evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne indicates that infection control interventions must go beyond contact and droplet measures (such as handwashing and cleaning surfaces) and attend to masking and ventilation. Observational evidence suggests that masks work mainly by source control (preventing infected persons from transmitting the virus to others), but laboratory studies of mask filtration properties suggest that they could also provide some protection to wearers (protective effect). Even small reductions in individual transmission could lead to substantial reductions in population spread. To date, only 1 randomized controlled trial has examined a community mask recommendation. This trial did not identify a significant protective effect and was not designed to evaluate source control. Filtration properties and comfort vary widely across mask types. Masks may cause discomfort and communication difficulties. However, there is no evidence that masks result in significant physiologic decompensation or that risk compensation and fomite transmission are associated with mask wearing. The psychological effects of masks are culturally shaped; they may include threats to autonomy, social relatedness, and competence. Evidence suggests that the potential benefits of wearing masks likely outweigh the potential harms when SARS-CoV-2 is spreading in a community. However, mask mandates involve a tradeoff with personal freedom, so such policies should be pursued only if the threat is substantial and mitigation of spread cannot be achieved through other means.

Key SummaryPoints.

Masks and face coverings, if widely worn, may substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The benefits of mask wearing seem to outweigh the harms when COVID-19 is spreading in a population.

Randomized trials are sparse and have not addressed the question of source control.

Psychological effects of masks are culturally framed and shape acceptance and adherence.

Mandated masking involves a tradeoff with personal freedom.

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Copyright © 2021 Chris Salter, All rights reserved.
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