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Report of the World Health Organization (WHO) Biosafety Inspection Team of the Variola Virus Maximum Containment Laboratories to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, 8-12 May 2017
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  • Description:
    The WHO team of international experts carried out a biosafety inspection at one of the two WHO- authorized variola virus (causative agent of smallpox) repositories: CDC*, in May 2017 in accordance with World Health Assembly resolution WHA60.1 (2007). [*the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States of America]

    The activities of the WHO inspection team included inspection of the physical high-containment facilities, the supporting engineering systems and the long-term secure specimen storage arrangement and the isolation hospital. Before entry into the high-containment facility, the inspection team performed a detailed review of the recent decontamination process. The inspection team had interactive discussions with CDC staff, requested and reviewed instruction manuals, standard operating procedures (SOPs), logbooks, meeting minutes, floor plans and other documents.

    Management and staff at CDC described their institutional commitment to biosafety and biosecurity by delivering detailed presentations of their facility systems and operations throughout the inspection. The team presented and discussed with CDC their findings of the inspection.

    Since the last inspection in 2015, CDC has made significant improvements with many previous findings addressed and closed. The inspection team delivered a presentation at the end of the meeting related to the status of the various findings. The inspection team did not note any new findings requiring immediate corrective action (Priority 3) during the 2017 WHO inspection, although they have requested further work on some issues.

    In conclusion, the CDC repository was found to meet international levels of biosafety and biosecurity for variola virus research and storage. This inspection report places no responsibility on the WHO. Continued safe, secure storage and conduct of work with live variola virus remains the responsibility of CDC. The WHO requests from CDC an action plan to address the issues noted here for further improvement within 30 days of receiving this report.

    Suggested citation. Report of the World Health Organization (WHO) Biosafety Inspection Team of the Variola Virus Maximum Containment Laboratories to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America, 8-12 May 2017. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

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