Canada’s roles and progress in poliovirus containment
On this page
- Global polio eradication campaign
- What we're doing
- National Authority for Containment of Poliovirus
- National Certification Committee
- Poliovirus essential facilities
- Poliovirus potentially infectious materials
Global polio eradication campaign
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative works towards eliminating polioviruses that remain in circulation in the population: wild poliovirus type 1 and vaccine-derived poliovirus.
As part of this initiative, World Health Organization (WHO) member states are preparing to contain all types of polioviruses only in certified safe and secure facilities. This will reduce the risk of laboratory containment breaches reintroducing polio to the population.
The Government of Canada has committed to this initiative under World Health Assembly resolution 71.16.
Learn more about:
- The Global Polio Eradication Initiative
- World Health Assembly resolution 71.16 (PDF)
- Global Poliovirus Containment Action Plan 2022 to 2024 (PDF)
What we're doing
The Public Health Agency of Canada Centre for Biosecurity has established a National Authority for Containment of Poliovirus. It has significantly reduced the number of facilities storing polioviruses.
We've also successfully completed a national poliovirus inventory survey, and promoted destruction or transfer of all unnecessary poliovirus materials in Canada.
In support of laboratory audits under the WHO's Global Action Plan for poliovirus containment, Canada was:
- the first country to submit an application for an Interim Certificate of Containment
- among the first member states in the world to have approved WHO-qualified auditors for inspecting poliovirus essential facilities
The strict audit process ensures Canadian facilities certified to work with polioviruses do so in a safe and secure manner. These measures are in-place to protect the general public, and support the global polio eradication campaign.
Canada's legislative authority under the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act requires any facility working with poliovirus to:
- have a licence
- meet the Canadian Biosafety Standard requirements for Risk Group 2 pathogens
Canadian facilities must:
- attest to whether they possess poliovirus during the licence application process
- receive approval from the Centre for Biosecurity to perform controlled activities with polioviruses
Learn more about:
National Authority for Containment of Poliovirus
The National Authority for the Containment of Poliovirus's responsibilities under the WHO's Global Action Plan include:
- determining the critical national functions that justify keeping poliovirus in facilities
- designating the facilities serving these critical functions that involve the handling and storage of needed poliovirus materials
They ensure that applications for containment certification meet and demonstrate the required:
- immunization coverage
- environmental safeguards
- physical facility requirements
They also ensure that established mechanisms, including regular inspection and audit programmes, align with the WHO's containment certification scheme. This ensures poliovirus essential facilities are appropriately assessed and comply with WHO Global Action Plan 4 requirements.
The authority also reviews and processes applications for containment certification. This ensures only designated facilities serving critical functions enter the containment certification process.
In addition, they:
- coordinate training for auditors and poliovirus essential facilities
- submit an annual report to the WHO on poliovirus containment progress
- coordinate with stakeholders on poliovirus containment and perform outreach
National Certification Committee
The National Certification Committee is an external advisory board made up of leading experts in relevant disciplines related to polio, such as:
- public health
- infectious diseases
The committee reviews and endorses Canada's annual polio eradication and containment reports. They then submit them to the WHO's regional arm, the Pan-American Health Organization.
The Public Health Agency of Canada and the National Authority for Containment of Polioviruses appoint the committee.
Poliovirus essential facilities
Facilities that handle and store eradicated types of poliovirus will require certification as a poliovirus essential facility. This type of facility maintains the ability to work with and store infectious and potentially infectious poliovirus materials. They serve critical national and international functions, including:
- vaccine testing
- vaccine production
- public health and virologic research
Poliovirus essential facilities must be certified to meet global containment requirements through the WHO's comprehensive Containment Certification Scheme. Qualified auditors from the Centre for Biosecurity inspect these facilities to ensure they meet stringent requirements for:
- health programs
- emergency preparedness
- laboratory equipment and maintenance
Poliovirus potentially infectious materials
Facilities that handle or store poliovirus potentially infectious material must inform the Centre for Biosecurity. Potentially infectious materials include any:
- respiratory samples
- human faecal samples
- concentrated sewage samples that were:
- collected when:
- poliovirus was in circulation or
- oral poliovirus vaccine was in use
- stored in conditions that support poliovirus survival
- collected when:
Learn more about:
- Biosafety and Biosecurity for Pathogens and Toxins Newsletter:
- How facilities can determine whether they possess potentially infectious materials (PDF)
- Polio (poliomyelitis): Wastewater surveillance
National Authority for the Containment of Polioviruses
Centre for Biosecurity
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