WHO Launches Disease-Tracking Intelligence Hub

The WHO and Germany unveiled a new pandemic intelligence hub in Berlin yesterday aimed at improving the comparison of data between countries between countries, The Guardian reports.
 
Chikwe Ihekweazu, the current director-general of the Nigeria CDC, will lead the hub, which will host visiting scientists or policymakers from around the world.
 
The center, funded with an initial investment of $100 million from Germany, aims to streamline databases and ease some of the challenges that dogged the global COVID-19 response, including:

  • Analytical tools developed in isolation or on an ad hoc basis
  • Clinical samples de-linked from epidemiological information such as incidence rates or hospitalizations
  • Patchy genomic sequencing capacities worldwide

 
A likely first priority: Boosting global tracking of Covid-19 variants via genome sequencing.
 
An end to all carrot, no stick?
 
At an inaugural press conference to launch the hub, German Health Minister Jens Spahn put countries that defy the cooperative spirit behind the new hub on notice, calling for sanctions Wednesday against countries that hide information about future outbreaks, Politico reports.
 
Spahn said “there must be something that follows”—such as the World Trade Organization’s power to sanction countries for noncompliance—if countries fail to live up to commitments under a new pandemic treaty in the works, to be taken up by the World Health Assembly in November.

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