The World Health Organization (WHO) and Switzerland May 25, 2021 signed a Memorandum of Undersatnding (MoU) to launch a BioHub facility that will allow rapid sharing of pathogens between laboratories and partners to facilitate a better analysis and preparedness against them.
- The move is significant in the view of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the need to underline the importance of sharing pathogen information to assess risks and launch countermeasures.
- Based in Spiez, the facility will help in safe reception, sequencing, storage and preparation of biological materials for distribution to other laboratories, so as to facilitate global preparedness against these pathogens.
- Currently, most pathogen sharing is done bilaterally between countries and on an ad hocbasis, which can be slow, and leave some countries without access to the benefits and tools.
- The BioHub will enable Member States to share biological materials with and via the BioHub under pre-agreed conditions, including biosafety, biosecurity, and other applicable regulations. This will ensure timeliness and predictability in response activities.
- The BioHub, according to the WHO press release, will enable member states to share biological materials with and via the BioHub under pre-agreed conditions, including biosafety, biosecurity, and other applicable regulations. This will ensure timeliness and predictability in response activities.
- In parallel, WHO will broaden its BioHub System for the use of biological materials by qualified entities – such as manufacturers – for the development of medical by-products for fair allocation to countries. WHO is currently running a pilot phase, using SARS-COV-2 and its variants, to test the feasibility and operational arrangements for sharing such materials with the facilities of the BioHub System.
- Following 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.
According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
The BioHub System is an important step towards facilitating this flow of information. We thank the Swiss Government for its support in establishing the first BioHub Facility.