An oral polio vaccine is safe, cheap, easy to administer and widely available, with over 1 billion doses produced and used annually in more than 140 countries, according to the team, which includes one of the researchers who discovered HIV and a vaccine expert from the Food and Drug Administration . The vaccine has almost eradicated polio worldwide.
Gallo discovered the virus that causes AIDS while Chumakov is associate director of research at the FDA’s vaccine division.
“We propose the use of OPV (oral poliovirus vaccine) to enhance or prevent COVID-19. Both polioviruses and coronaviruses are positive strand RNA viruses; therefore, they are likely to be able to induce and be affected by common innate immunity mechanisms,” they wrote. “… Oral poliovirus vaccine in particular can provide temporary protection against coronavirus disease.”
The oral polio vaccine produces herd effects, they wrote. Herd immunity is achieved when the majority of a certain population – 70% to 90% – becomes immune to an infectious disease, either because they have become infected and recovered or through vaccination.
In addition to protecting vulnerable individuals, it could also prevent the spread of the new corona virus by increasing the proportion of incomprehensible individuals, Chumakov, Gallo and colleagues wrote.
“The risk of complications due to OPV is extremely low,” they added. It can cause a polio-like complication, but only in about one in every 3 million doses given, and then mostly in immunocompromised children.
Doctors know that the benefits of vaccination extend beyond the specific targeted bacteria.
“Other live attenuated viral vaccines such as those against measles and smallpox have also been associated with pronounced non-specific protective effects against infectious diseases,” they wrote.
“In Africa, when measles vaccine was introduced into society, the overall mortality rate of children decreased by more than 50%, a decrease that was much greater than expected due to protection against measles death alone,” they added.