Posted by John Ester on Aug 07, 2018
John Modlin, MD, is the Deputy Director for Polio Research and Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He also has long-time local ties with Crystal Lake.
Rotary International has been a driver in the campaign to eliminate polio since the 1970's. The Gates Foundation became involved in 2007, and since then the two organizations have been the major players in the fight against polio.
Dr. Modlin explained that polio is caused by three viruses, one of which (Type 2) has been eradicated. Two vaccines have been developed to fight the Type 1 virus:  the Salk and the Sabin. The Sabin vaccine delivers a live virus and has been the workhorse in fighting polio. It is administered by delivering two drops of the vaccine to the throats of all children under the age of five in targeted areas.
Despite challenges (including security concerns and religious and cultural opposition) considerable progress has been made since 1998. New cases have been identified in only three countries:  Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. But a problem has occurred in that the Sabin vaccine itself has developed a vaccine-derived (VD) polio virus. In the last three years there have been outbreaks of this type of polio in six countries, including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Now the major focus of Dr. Modlin's work  has become the creation of a new vaccine to replace the Sabin vaccine, resulting in the elimination of polio caused by the vaccine-derived virus. Dr. Modlin and his team hope to achieve this goal by 2019.