Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Global Poliovirus Surveillance

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Jan 1;69(5152):1648-1652. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm695152a4.


On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (1). On March 24, 2020, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) suspended all polio supplementary immunization activities and recommended the continuation of polio surveillance (2). In April 2020, GPEI shared revised polio surveillance guidelines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which focused on reducing the risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to health care workers and communities by modifying activities that required person-to-person contact, improving hand hygiene and personal protective equipment use practices, and overcoming challenges related to movement restrictions, while continuing essential polio surveillance functions (3). GPEI assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on polio surveillance by comparing data from January to September 2019 to the same period in 2020. Globally, the number of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases reported declined 33% and the mean number of days between the second stool collected and receipt by the laboratory increased by 70%. Continued analysis of AFP case reporting and stool collection is critical to ensure timely detection and response to interruptions of polio surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Eradication
  • Feces / virology
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology*
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control
  • Poliovirus / isolation & purification
  • Poliovirus Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Population Surveillance*


  • Poliovirus Vaccines