Implementing Poliovirus Containment Globally

Poliovirus containment is a key objective of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Polio Eradication Initiative.external icon WHO has convened Containment Supporting Groupsexternal icon, which include experts who support poliovirus containment activities.

Poliovirus containment has four pillars:

  • Identify: All countries survey their laboratories and other facilities to identify infectious and potentially infectious poliovirus materials
  • Destroy: All countries request that laboratories and facilities destroy all unneeded poliovirus materials
  • Transfer: Laboratories and facilities may choose to transfer needed poliovirus materials to designated poliovirus essential facilities
  • Contain: Countries will designate poliovirus-essential facilities for continued work with eradicated polioviruses. These facilities are expected to comply with the World Health Organization Global Action Planpdf iconexternal icon requirements.

Global Action Plan for Poliovirus Containment

Two key advancements in global poliovirus containment were endorsed during WHO World Health Assembly:

In 2015, the WHO World Health Assembly endorsed The Global Action Plan to Minimize Poliovirus Facility–Associated Risk After Type-Specific Eradication of Wild Polioviruses and Sequential Cessation of Oral Poliovirus Vaccine Use pdf iconexternal icon(GAPIII), which provides a framework for containment. Laboratories and other facilities that handle or store poliovirus will be expected to follow biological risk management requirements as described by the GAPIII.

In 2018, the WHO World Health Assembly resolved to intensify efforts to accelerate the progress of poliovirus containment certification and complete national inventories and destruction of unneeded PV materials.

Phase 1: Preparation for Containment of Poliovirus Type 2
      • Countries will conduct a national survey and inventory polio and non-polio laboratories that handle poliovirus type 2 or potentially infectious materials.
      • Destruction of unneeded poliovirus type 2 materials
      • Phase 1 was initiated in 2015 and is still underway.
Phase 2: Poliovirus Type 2 Containment Period
      • Countries will implement containment in designated poliovirus essential facilities that serve essential national or global functions, including vaccine testing and production, diagnostics, or public health and biological research.
      • Designated poliovirus essential facilities will be certified
      • Infectious and potentially infectious poliovirus type 2 materials will be transferred to poliovirus essential facilities or destroyed if they are no longer needed
      • Phase 2 began in April 2016, when the world switched from trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine.external icon
Phase 3: Final Poliovirus Containment
      • Final containment will occur once WHO has declared all three types of poliovirus eradicated. Poliovirus can be declared eradicated after at least three years have passed since the last case of poliovirus is identified.
      • All infectious and potentially infectious poliovirus types 1, 2, and 3 materials will be contained in certified poliovirus essential facilities and secondary and tertiary safeguards, including immunization and sanitation standards, must also be implemented as specified in GAPIII.
      • The Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (GCC) will confirm that global containment of poliovirus has been achieved and maintained. Global certification of polio eradication is dependent upon appropriate progress toward global poliovirus containment.
Page last reviewed: July 23, 2020, 10:00 AM