Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication - Pakistan, January 2021-July 2022

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022 Oct 21;71(42):1313-1318. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7142a1.


After reporting a single wild poliovirus (WPV) type 1 (WPV1) case in 2021, Pakistan reported 14 cases during April 1-July 31, 2022. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where endemic WPV transmission has never been interrupted (1). In its current 5-year strategic plan, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has set a goal of interrupting all WPV1 transmission by the end of 2023 (1-3). The reemergence of WPV cases in Pakistan after 14 months with no case detection has uncovered transmission in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the most historically challenging area. This report describes Pakistan's progress toward polio eradication during January 2021-July 2022 and updates previous reports (4,5). As of August 20, 2022, all but one of the 14 WPV1 cases in Pakistan during 2022 have been reported from North Waziristan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In underimmunized populations, excretion of vaccine virus can, during a period of 12-18 months, lead to reversion to neurovirulence, resulting in circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs), which can cause paralysis and outbreaks. An outbreak of cVDPV type 2 (cVDPV2), which began in Pakistan in 2019, has been successfully contained; the last case occurred in April 2021 (1,6). Despite program improvements, 400,000-500,000 children continue to be missed during nationwide polio supplementary immunization activities (SIAs),* and recent isolation of poliovirus from sewage samples collected in other provinces suggests wider WPV1 circulation during the ongoing high transmission season. Although vaccination efforts have been recently complicated by months of flooding during the summer of 2022, to successfully interrupt WPV1 transmission in the core reservoirs in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reach the GPEI goal, emphasis should be placed on further improving microplanning and supervision of SIAs and on systematic tracking and vaccination of persistently missed children in these reservoir areas of Pakistan.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Disease Eradication
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis* / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis* / prevention & control
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral
  • Poliovirus*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sewage


  • Sewage
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral