World, Health, Europe

WHO, Germany to open global 'pandemic intelligence' hub

Global hub to predict, prevent, detect, respond to pandemic, epidemic risks, says German health minister

Peter Kenny   | 05.05.2021
WHO, Germany to open global 'pandemic intelligence' hub

GENEVA

The World Health Organization and Germany Wednesday said they will establish a “Global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence” in Berlin.

The hub will work with partners around the world, they said, adding it will lead innovations in data analytics across the largest network of global data to predict, prevent, detect, and prepare for and respond to pandemic and epidemic risks worldwide.

"One of the lessons of COVID-19 is that world needs a significant leap forward in data analysis to help leaders make informed public health decisions," said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, noting work on the hub started last year.

"This requires harnessing the potential of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, combining diverse data sources, and collaborating across multiple disciplines. Better data and better analytics will lead to better decisions," Tedros said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke via a recorded message to a WHO webinar and said the hub would open later this year.

"The current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we can only fight pandemics and epidemics together," said Merkel.

"The new WHO Hub will be a global platform for pandemic prevention, bringing together various governmental, academic and private sector institutions … partners from all around the world to contribute to the WHO hub," she added.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said there is a need to identify pandemic and epidemic risks as quickly as possible, wherever they occur in the world.

He said the initial budget for one year will be €30 million (nearly $36 million).

"For that aim, we need to strengthen the global early warning surveillance system with improved collection of health-related data and inter-disciplinary risk analysis," said Spahn.

"Germany has consistently been committed to support WHO's work in preparing for and responding to health emergencies, and the WHO Hub is a concrete initiative that will make the world safer," he added.

"We aim to build trust between partners," said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO's head of global emergencies.

"The hub will be a center of innovation," Ryan said, stressing that Geneva will remain the center of the World Health Organization.

"This is not to create a new bureaucracy, but to dynamically engage with our partners," he said.

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