Canada’s roles and progress in poliovirus containment

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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.

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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 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:

Canadian facilities must:

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National Authority for Containment of Poliovirus

The National Authority for the Containment of Poliovirus's responsibilities under the WHO's Global Action Plan include:

They ensure that applications for containment certification meet and demonstrate the required:

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:

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:

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:

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:

Poliovirus potentially infectious materials

Facilities that handle or store poliovirus potentially infectious material must inform the Centre for Biosecurity. Potentially infectious materials include any:

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National Authority for the Containment of Polioviruses


Centre for Biosecurity


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