Utilizing the Oral Polio Vaccine for COVID-19

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A new clinical trial with an older remedy. Experts said the idea behind utilizing the oral polio vaccine is not an end all be all—but as a tool to help lessen the spread of COVID-19. 

Dr. Michael Schmidt, a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, said that with many neglecting to wear a mask as the states reopen—case numbers are increasing. He hopes that the oral polio vaccine is a viable and already accessible option in the fight to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.  

It effectively awakens our immune system—we’re given an inoculation typically on a sugar cube. So you eat the sugar cube and the virus goes into your small intestine, it replicates, and says to your immune system “Hey a virus is here, let’s get busy and get rid of it”.

Dr. Michael Schmidt, Professor Microbiology and Immunology 

While the criteria for the polio vaccine is expected to work because it is a live-attenuated vaccine, this brings up the question of if it will work with any ‘live vaccine’. According to Dr. Schmidt, experts have already made the observation that the the oral polio vaccine is effective at targeting upper respiratory viruses. The M.M.R (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine has also been shown to have a similar effect.

However, the oral polio vaccine is already at the disposal of the globe with over 1 billion doses readily available with the benefit of being cost effective. Dr. Schmidt added that it is less than 20 cents a dose and, ‘We can vaccinate the entire United States for ‘tens’ of millions of dollars, rather than billions of dollars and it may help us get back to normal.’

As for when we can see results from the clinical trials, Dr. Schmidt said it’s the same as all other vaccines when searching for the cure.

The problem with clinical trials is, you don’t know until you know and what outcome is is whether or not we see a reduction in the number of new cases of COVID. 

Dr. Michael Schmidt, Professor Microbiology and Immunology 

Dr. Schmidt said that despite the increase we’ve been seeing here in South Carolina, we have yet to hit that 30% mark of infected here in Charleston. This means we’re still in the first wave of COVID-19 and that second wave could still come.

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