Data InsightsTesting rates for polio have rebounded after a drop amid the COVID-19 pandemic
May 09, 2024Saloni Dattani

Testing rates for polio have rebounded after a drop amid the COVID-19 pandemic

This chart, titled "Share of potential polio cases tested and reported to the WHO," shows how many suspected polio cases were actually tested for the virus and reported to the World Health Organization from 2001 to 2023. The graph tracks this data for several countries, including Nigeria, Afghanistan, Malawi, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Botswana. Ideally, at least 80% of suspected cases should be tested to ensure none are missed, as recommended by the WHO. The lines on the graph fluctuations for each country over the years, with a noticeable dip around 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, the graph also shows a rebound in more recent years, indicating that testing for polio has picked back up again. This is important for keeping up the fight against polio and moving towards its eradication.

The world is close to eradicating polio. Annual cases have dropped from an estimated 400,000 in the 1980s to less than 4,000 in recent years.

But, to cross the finish line, sufficient testing is crucial to ensure that cases aren’t missed.

The World Health Organization recommends that at least 80% of potential polio cases be tested for the virus. Potential cases are identified based on “acute flaccid paralysis”, a sudden onset of paralysis in the limbs.

As shown in the chart, disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in polio testing rates in many countries. Thankfully, this new data shows that polio testing has rebounded.

This is due to the dedicated effort of countless health workers and opens the way to a future free from polio.