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WHO, Switzerland set to launch 1st WHO BioHub Facility

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WHO and Switzerland launch global BioHub for pathogen storage, sharing and analysis

World Health Organization (WHO), and Switzerland signed an MoU to launch the first WHO BioHub Facility as part of the WHO BioHub System during the 74th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. The facility will allow the rapid sharing of viruses and other pathogens between laboratories and global partners.

  • It will be set up in Spiez, Switzerland. Under this agreement, the Spiez Biocontainment Laboratory will be made available to WHO and the lab will act as a repository for Sars-CoV-2 viruses or other pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential.
  • The timely sharing of pathogens will allow the global scientific community to assess the risk and develop countermeasures (such as diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines) rapidly.
  • At present, pathogen sharing is done bilaterally between countries and on a temporary basis. This process is often slow and leaves many countries without access to benefits and tools.

Role of the Facility

i.The facility will serve as a center for safe receipt, sequencing, storage, and preparation of biological materials for distribution to other labs, in order to inform risk assessments and sustain global preparedness against the pathogens.

  • In the pilot stage, the hub will also act as an international exchange system for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and other emerging pathogens.
  • Member States will share biological materials with the BioHub under pre-agreed conditions.

ii.At a later stage, WHO will broaden the BioHub System for use of biological materials by qualified entities such as manufacturers, for the development of medical by-products for fair allocation to countries.

iii.After results from the pilot project, the BioHub will expand from SARS-CoV-2 and its variants to other pathogens and connect partners with other repositories and laboratory networks in 2022.

About World Health Organization (WHO)

Director-General – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland

About Switzerland (officially Swiss Confederation)

President – Guy Parmelin
Administrative capital – Bern
Currency – Swiss Franc (NHF)