The World Health Organization (WHO) announced it and the Swiss Confederation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the first WHO BioHub Facility as part of the WHO BioHub System. This facility will improve rapid information sharing of viruses and other pathogens between laboratories and partners globally.
Based in Spiez, Switzerland, the facility will serve as a center for the safe receipt, sequencing, storage and preparation of biological materials for distribution to other laboratories, in order to inform risk assessments, and sustain global preparedness against these pathogens. Currently, the WHO said most pathogen sharing is done bilaterally between countries and on an ad hoc basis, 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.
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. 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.