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Germany set to be home of new WHO pandemic data hub

Germany set to be home of new WHO pandemic data hub

Germany set to be home of new WHO pandemic data hub

The World Health Organisation has announced that it will establish a new global pandemic data hub in Berlin. The establishment will work to detect and prepare for any potential pandemic threats.

The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it is opening a new global data hub, aimed at detecting, preventing and preparing for any potential future pandemics. The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence will open in Berlin and begin operating in September. By monitoring publicly-available information, the centre will be able to detect pandemic signals earlier than the current systems in place and should facilitate cooperation between countries and scientific institutes.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in the global systems for pandemic and epidemic intelligence," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "There will be more viruses that will emerge with the potential for sparking epidemics or pandemics," he added. "Viruses move fast. But data can move even faster. With the right information, countries and communities can stay one step ahead of an emerging risk and save lives."

The new centre will look for early warning signals and help governments make better decisions in the early stages of a pandemic. “There are signals that may occur before epidemics happen… data that can give us pre-signals,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan. “The Hub will allow us to develop tools for that sort of predictive analytics.”

“A unique environment for health research”

According to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin, which hosts a number of research organisations like the Robert Koch Institute, is already a centre for healthcare and digital research. However, with the addition of the WHO hub, Merkel believes Berlin will become an important environment for taking action against future pandemics. "If that expertise is now supplemented by the WHO Hub, we will create a unique environment for pandemic and health research here in Berlin - an environment from which important action-oriented insights will emerge for governments and leaders around the world," she said.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has also spoken in favour of the new institution, saying that current global systems are “insufficiently prepared” to handle outbreaks, mutations and inter-species infections. “There’s a clear need for a stronger global early warning alert and emergency response system with improved public health intelligence,” he said. “Better data and better analytics are key for better decisions.”

Germany will cover the start-up costs of the new WHO hub, around 30 million euros. Discussions are still ongoing as to the hub’s operational budget.

William Nehra

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William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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