marion koopmans

WHO consults scientists over pathogens with pandemic potential

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a series of consultations with the scientific community this week aimed at building consensus about how best to identify and address the pathogens most likely to cause epidemics and pandemics.

The first consultation kicked off on Tuesday, with some of the world’s top scientists addressing how to develop a scientific framework for epidemics and pandemics.

Bringing research and public health together

Renowned Dutch virologist Dr Marion Koopmans told the meeting that “the evolving global pathogen surveillance network” offered a huge opportunity for collaboration on “building surveillance and sequencing capacity for the common pathogens”.

However, she added that every region has its own pathogen hotspots and priorities.

“We need sampling designed that bears in mind the likely disease emergence scenario in each region. Do I want to be able to detect it pre-emergence, for instance, for vector-borne diseases going forward… or do I want to develop it into an early warning surveillance including, for instance, wastewater surveillance,” said Koopmans.

“the opportunities are there, the tools are there. They need to be further developed for routine implementation and that to me is the next step. What that requires in terms of collaboration is much closer connection between the more research type work in clinical settings and public health settings, rather than setting up separate data and sample collection studies for emerging diseases,” she added.

The next two consultations take place next Thursday and Friday, with the fourth to be held in February.

Read the entire statement on the website of the WHO via this link