Monitoring and Validation of the Global Replacement of tOPV with bOPV, April–May 2016
The phased withdrawal of oral polio vaccine (OPV) associated with the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 began with the synchronized global replacement of trivalent OPV (tOPV) with bivalent OPV (bOPV) during April - May 2016, a transition referred to as the “switch.” The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization recommended conducting this synchronized switch in all 155 OPV-using countries and territories (which collectively administered several hundred million doses of tOPV each year via several hundred thousand facilities) to reduce risks of re-emergence of vaccine-derived polioviruses. Safe execution of this switch required implementation of an associated independent monitoring strategy, the primary objective of which was verification that tOPV was no longer available for administration post-switch. This strategy had to be both practical and rigorous such that tOPV withdrawal could be reasonably employed and confirmed in all countries and territories within a discreet timeframe. Following these principles, WHO recommended that designated monitors in each of the 155 countries and territories visit all vaccine stores as well as a 10% sample of highest-risk health facilities within two weeks of the national switch date, removing any tOPV vials found. National governments were required to provide the WHO with formal validation of execution and monitoring of the switch. In practice, all countries reported cessation of tOPV by 12 May 2016 and 95% of countries and territories submitted detailed monitoring data to WHO. According to these data, 272 out of 276 (99%) national stores, 3,741 out of 3.968 (94%) regional stores, 16,144 out of 22,372 (72%) district level stores, and 143,050 out of 595,401 (24%) of health facilities were monitored. These data, along with field reports suggest that monitoring and validation of the switch was efficient and effective, and that the strategies used during the process could be adapted to future stages of OPV withdrawal.