Switzerland, together with the World Health Organization, will create the first bank for the exchange of dangerous pathogens and new viruses, Federal Adviser (Minister) of the Interior, who oversees health issues, Alain Berset, said at a press conference in Geneva.
“This morning, we signed a partnership agreement with the World Health Organization to establish a hub in Switzerland for the exchange and study of dangerous pathogens,” he said.
According to him, we are talking about creating a long-term system for storing, exchanging, and studying emerging and already known dangerous pathogens and viruses, such as COVID-19, which will be sent from around the world, for further use for the production of vaccines.
The first biohab of the future WHO biohab system, which was announced in November 2020, will be located in Spitz. The biohab will serve as a hub for safely obtaining, sequencing, storing, and preparing biological materials for distribution to other laboratories to inform risk assessment and maintain global preparedness to combat these pathogens.
Berset stressed that the start time of the new hub depends on how quickly the idea of sharing virus samples will be picked up by other WHO countries and will start sending options for study.
“At the moment, transparency and openness will play into the hands of everyone. And if something new appears somewhere, it can be quickly studied. To do this, we have private and public institutions,” he added. According to WHO, the first virus to be studied by the biohab will be SARS-CoV-2, and after the successful completion of the pilot phase of studying the virus and its variants, other pathogens will be delivered to the repository, which will create a network of partner laboratories around the world in 2022.