Policemen guarding vaccinators shot down in Pak

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Anti-vaccine militants gun down policemen guarding polio vaccinators at Kot Azam, Tank district, in north-west Pakistan. The two gunmen had been hiding near a water channel before opening fire on the guards and then, fled on a motorbike; they spared the vaccinators.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two polio-endemic countries now. Pakistan reported its first case of polio in 15 months in April 2022. Since then, 13 more cases have been declared — all in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan.

Many polio workers and their guards have been killed by militants in Pakistan over anti-vaccine sentiment, which includes a belief that the vaccines contain pig fat, and claims that the vaccination is a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.

Meanwhile, while Europe was declared polio-free in 2003, polio virus was detected in sewage samples in London in June this year. An urgent vaccination drive has been organised in Greater London to cover all children aged one to nine. They will be offered the inactivated vaccine — which contains a dead virus and has no risk of spreading. This is the form of polio vaccine the UK has used since 2004.

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