WHO launches global network to expand coronavirus surveillance


Content adapted from material originally published by ONU News

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week launched a new network to monitor the coronavirus, CoViNet.

The aim is to facilitate and coordinate global capabilities for early and accurate detection, monitoring and assessment of viruses that cause Covid-19, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and new types of coronaviruses of public health importance.

Potential new coronaviruses

CoViNet expands the WHO Covid-19 reference laboratory network established during the early days of the pandemic. Initially, the analyzes were focused on Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. Now, the goal is to address a broader range of coronaviruses, including Mers-CoV and potential novel coronaviruses.

CoViNet is a network of global laboratories with expertise in human, animal and environmental coronavirus surveillance and currently includes 36 laboratories from 21 countries across all six WHO regions. Among them is the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, in Brazil.

A health worker from the San Martín de Porres district, in Peru, administers a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in March 2021 (Photo: Unicef/Jose Vilca)

Representatives from the research centers met in Geneva on March 26th and 27th to finalize the network’s action plan for 2024-2025. The goal is for WHO Member States to be better equipped for early detection, risk assessment and response to coronavirus-related health challenges.

The CoViNet meeting brought together global experts in human, animal and environmental health, taking a comprehensive approach to monitoring and evaluating the evolution and spread of the pathogen.

Scientific information for decision making

Regional collaboration highlights the importance of increased surveillance, laboratory capacity, sequencing and data integration to inform WHO policies and support decision-making.

The acting director of the WHO Department of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention highlighted that “coronaviruses have repeatedly demonstrated their epidemic and pandemic risk”.

Maria Van Kerkhove stated that “this new global network will ensure the timely detection, monitoring and assessment of coronaviruses of public health importance.”

Data generated through CoViNet efforts will guide the work of the WHO Technical Advisory Groups on Viral Evolution and Vaccine Composition and others, ensuring that global health policies and tools are based on the latest scientific information.

The article is in Portuguese

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