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The W.H.O. opens a Berlin hub to head off the next pandemic.

todaySeptember 1, 2021 2

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The World Health Organization opened a center in Berlin on Wednesday where information can be shared to help prepare the world for the next global health crisis.

The center, known as the Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, will gather data from around the world and share it internationally in a stepped-up effort to allow the health authorities to recognize trends in diseases as they happen, and develop new analytic and modeling tools to use that data in establishing strategies to battle outbreaks, the W.H.O. said on its website.

The hub will assess traditional disease surveillance information, like case numbers and laboratory results, along with environmental, social, economic, cultural and agricultural factors.

It will focus on what the W.H.O. called “collaborative intelligence” — the consistent sharing of information among political, scientific and civil organizations to develop a coordinated approach, according to a paper about the hub. Countries and institutions, public and private, must trust each other in order for the hub to function properly, the paper said.

The coronavirus pandemic was the catalyst for the hub, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., said at a news conference Wednesday after an inauguration ceremony in Berlin that included Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany among the dignitaries.

“Even as we respond to the pandemic, we must learn the lessons it’s teaching us,” Dr. Tedros said. “One of the most clear is the need for new powerful systems and tools for global surveillance to collect, analyze and disseminate data on outbreaks with the potential to become epidemics and pandemics. Viruses must move fast, but data can move even faster.”

The German government is initially funding the effort, and Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general of Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control, will lead it. The hub falls under the W.H.O.’s Health Emergencies Program, run by Dr. Michael Ryan.

Dr. Ryan said that the deeply interlinked nature of the modern world, which can allow a novel disease — and misinformation — to spread around the globe with astonishing speed, could help battle pathogens if nations work together.

“That interconnectedness is also our greatest strength,” he said.

Original story from https://www.nytimes.com

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