The world will be declared polio-free when all regions have documented the absence of wild poliovirus transmission for at least three consecutive years and laboratories holding wild poliovirus materials have adopted appropriate measures for containment. The probability of wild poliovirus transmission from the laboratory to the community is small but the potential consequences of such transmission become more serious as polio-free countries increase in number and immunization decreases or stops. It is crucial to achieve the safe handling, and ultimately, the appropriate laboratory containment, of wild poliovirus infectious materials, as well as potential wild poliovirus infectious materials.
The first edition of the global action plan for laboratory containment of wild polioviruses was issued by WHO in December 1999. It was based on broad input from biosafety experts, epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, ministries of health and vaccine manufacturers.
The 2nd edition of the global action plan for laboratory containment of wild polioviruses replaces the first. It incorporates lessons learned from biomedical laboratory surveys and inventories in more than 100 countries in five of the six WHO regions. It expands previous recommendations to include vaccine-derived polioviruses. It defines biosafety requirements in terms of risks. It describes two phases of activities leading to containment: the laboratory survey and inventory phase and the global certification phase. Finally, it examines the implications of post-certification immunization policies on poliovirus biosafety requirements.
Phase 1 of laboratory survey and inventory
During this phase, when the number of polio-free countries and regions are increasing but wild polioviruses continue to circulate somewhere in the world, countries are requested to:
survey all biomedical laboratories to identify those with wild poliovirus infectious materials or potential wild poliovirus infectious materials, and encourage the destruction of all unneeded materials.
develop an inventory of laboratories that retain wild poliovirus or potential wild poliovirus infectious materials.
instruct laboratories retaining wild poliovirus infectious materials or potential infectious materials to institute enhanced biosafety level-2 (BSL-2/polio) measures for safe handling.
plan for global certification.
For progress on phase 1 of laboratory survey and inventory of containment activities in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, click here .
During this phase, which begins when one year has elapsed without the isolation of wild poliovirus anywhere in the world, countries are requested to:
notify biomedical laboratories that wild poliovirus transmission has been interrupted.
instruct laboratories on national inventories to choose one of the following options.
Render materials non-infectious with respect to poliovirus or destroy under appropriate conditions.
Transfer wild poliovirus infectious materials and potential infectious materials to laboratories capable of meeting the required biosafety standards.
implement biosafety measures appropriate to the laboratory procedures being performed (BSL-2/polio or BSL-3/polio).
Document the fulfilment of all containment requirements for global certification.
A third edition of the Global action plan for laboratory containment of wild polioviruses is currently being prepared. It will include containment of oral polio vaccine/Sabin strains, as well as wild poliovirus, the need for equitable access to polioviruses in the post-eradication period against the risk based on assessment findings and establish the goal of minimizing the risk of facility-associated poliovirus in the post-eradication/post-oral polio vaccine era by reducing to a minimum the number of facilities retaining polioviruses worldwide that serve essential functions and meet all required safeguards.