If you have heard that millions of people suffered from polio at any time in human history, you need to ask for a reliable source that could be verified on this claim.
This month, I apparently became the first writer to publish an article about the safety of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in a major Pakistani newspaper. Not unexpectedly, my article sparked a reaction in readers — what I call “denialists” — who have been religiously following the safe polio vaccine story told over and over by the mainstream media without touching on the serious health risks associated with the same vaccine.
Polio vaccination is heavily promoted in Pakistan via mainstream media and virtually every publishing/broadcast platform available. The OPV, also called Sabin Vaccine, has long been “stopped” or “discontinued” in the developed west. This is owed to the serious health risks including permanent paralysis — conveniently termed vaccine associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP) — which is clinically identical to the polio caused by wild poliovirus. In the recent past, OPV has caused outbreaks of paralysis in Nigeria and India (as referenced in my article on Express Tribune). As we speak, it has caused new cases of polio in two more countries — South Sudan and Madagascar.
However, the denialists continue to either deny outright that OPV doesn’t have any such health risks and that the paralysis it can cause is not polio, or they attempt to downplay its health risks in order to favor the vaccination campaigns which are heavily funded by the World Health Organization (WHO). What’s strikingly common is the ignorance of people, including health professionals, regarding the health risks of OPV as well as the lies and myths the vaccination industry has been propagating via media.
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