According to an article in Nature, we could soon live in a world where the wild poliovirus doesn't exist. Many people may be somewhat shocked to know that it does still exist, though. Polio isn't a particularly prominent virus anymore, much in the way that smallpox has been exterminated, polio has been eliminated from civilized nations. In the article it estimates roughly 99% of poliovirus has been exterminated. It is a problem that has mostly been relegated to the past. But with the recent announcement from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations that it is dedicated to the complete eradication of the wild poliovirus by 2012, it may soon be that polio truly is a problem of the past to everybody.
However even with the backing of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the various other organizations that are currently at work trying to get rid of this sickness, there still are possible speedbumps for the 2012 goal as the article points out. Financing is the first problem any sort of campaign will face. The projected amount required rests at $1.81 billion (US), though $1.1 billion has already been raised for this objective. Various sources such as the Gates Foundation and several governments have pledged additional sources in the last few weeks.
Logistics is yet another issue that the campaign against polio will face. It is endemic chiefly to 4 nations: Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. But it is often very difficult to truly declare an area polio-free. This is due to the fact that polio only causes notable symptoms, including paralysis, in about 1% of its hosts. The rest are simply carriers for the virus. The silent nature of the virus also appears in the fact that it often reappears in areas that have previously been free of reported cases for a long time. However, these outbreaks are often short-lived as a relatively small number of people are not vaccinated and the virus burns out quickly.
Polio, much like many diseases that can be treated quite well, manages to squeeze by assisted by the fact that it is common in areas of conflict and poverty. This makes getting the means to vaccinate people to the people can be a challenge in and of itself. On top of this, in many of these regions there are demographics of people who fear that the oral vaccination of polio will cause medical problems and simply refuse to take it.
Even once the proclaimed 'last push' to get rid of polio is underway, it is likely that it will not be the final 1% to put the wild poliovirus at 100% eradicated. Experts say that there is more than likely other small, undetected pockets of people still are risk of infection that will have to be cleaned up and vaccinated before we can claim that polio is gone. What's more, there is still a risk of polio making flares from people who respond poorly to the vaccination and see the effects of polio from being vaccinated. These cases have been documented in the past to be able to transition to virulent stands of the virus. However, this sort of problem could be counteracted towards the movement away from the orally-administered vaccine to that of an inactive/weakened strand of polio that will not be able to make the jump to a 'vaccine derived polio virus'. It is an incredibly intensive process to be able to stamp out a virus from the face of the planet, but it may not be too long before the world can say goodbye to polio.