The new Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), South Korean Jong-Wook Lee, announced today that the wild poliovirus can be eradicated from the human population within 3 years.
"We have a great opportunity," said Lee. "For the first time this century, we can eradicate a terrible disease from our planet."
Lee said that this month the world has seen the lowest number of paralytic polio cases since records began: 235. Some 99% of the cases were in India, with its faltering mass vaccination campaigns, Pakistan, and Egypt, and efforts will focus on these countries. The cases probably represent about 1% of actual infections in those areas.
But humans are not the only reservoirs of poliovirus. Although no animals carry it, WHO earlier estimated some 10,000 laboratories worldwide carry stocks of the virus.
And, as the WHO's "Global action plan for laboratory containment of wild polioviruses,"...