Ukrainian Polio and the Hindsight Solution

A recent threat of a Polio outbreak in Ukraine has left parts of Europe scrambling for answers.

As a whole, the nation’s population of children is under vaccinated when compared to the rest of the globe. In a recent interview, Ellyn Ogden of the United States Agency for International Development said, “Ukraine went from 90% coverage a decade ago, to 14% today. This is one of the lowest coverages in the world, including countries at war and those facing security and economic challenges.”

The lack of mass inoculation has led to the first two documented cases of polio in Europe since 2010. Having been caused by a vaccine-derived strain, they both could have been prevented if the population had a higher level of immunization. Once the cases had been diagnosed conversations quickly began to address the potential paroxysm.

In response to the threat, the UN donated 3.7 million vaccines to help fill the gap that’s developed over the last decade to protect the country, and those that surround it, from the disease. What’s followed has been an interesting case of he said, she said that’s played out through the international media.

The local All-Ukrainian Council for Patients’ Rights and Safety lobbyist group claims that the vaccines are unsafe because of mishandlings during transport. The World Health Organization says that the process was carried out in line with internationally defined best practices. One blames the other for recklessness. The other’s made references to a lobby group that’s out to protect the interests of a few of individuals. The back and forth has caused a delay in the immunization efforts, pushing them back, well past the 15 day guideline according to Ogden.

The plan may have been implemented in a much quicker manner had the vaccines been transported with loggers that monitored the ongoing temperature of the vials. The arguments could have been rendered moot had data been available to the public to prove one side over the other. Now, every day that goes by increases the risk of a major outbreak.

  • Click here for more information on how to properly transport, store and handle vaccines according to the Center for Disease Control 
  • To learn more about the global initiative to eradicate polio visit
  • To learn more about data loggers that can be used to monitor the condition of a package in transit visit