COVID-19 virus not the last to cause pandemic, warns WHO chief

Tedros Ghebreyesus October 13 announced names of 26 experts who will advise WHO on developing framework to define studies into origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 14 October 2021
COVID-19 virus not the last to cause pandemic, warns WHO chief. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is “a fact of nature” and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that led to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, is not the last, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said October 13, 2021.

He said so while announcing the names of 26 experts for the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) — which will advise the health body on developing a framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens.

 “While SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” he said.

The team of 26, selected from over 700 applications, will be responsible for the following:

  • Advise WHO on prioritising studies and field investigations into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential
  • Provide information and assistance to the WHO Secretariat to develop a work plan of the SAGO
  • To independently evaluate available scientific and technical findings from global studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and hand them to the WHO Secretariat
  • To advise the WHO Secretariat on developing, monitoring and supporting the next series of studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2

The experts have been selected from across fields such as epidemiology, animal health, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, biology, food safety, biosafety, biosecurity and public health.

He said understanding the origins of newer pathogens is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential and requires a broad range of expertise.

“We are very pleased with the calibre of experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer,” he added.  

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