The world may never have a better chance than now to eradicate polio, according to Aidan O’Leary, polio eradication director for the World Health Organization.
Before polio can be considered eradicated, the number of cases must reach zero and no virus can be detected in the environment. During the first nine months of 2021, just two cases of polio caused by the wild virus were recorded — one each in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the two countries where wild polio is still endemic. Environmental testing throughout those countries has also shown significantly less wild poliovirus in water and sewage samples.

O’Leary explains how we can protect our progress against polio and reach more children with a new polio vaccine and a new Global Polio Eradication Initiative strategy. This strategy aims to address our remaining challenges, including vaccine hesitancy, political uncertainty, and the difficulties of continuing vaccinations during a pandemic. Read more from O’Leary about the determination and support it will take to overcome today’s challenges and achieve a polio-free world.