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WHO BioHub Initiative

  • 26 May 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Switzerland have launched a BioHub facility that will allow pathogens sharing between laboratories and facilitate “analysis and preparedness” against them.

Key Points

  • About BioHub Facility:
    • The facility will help in safe reception, sequencing, storage and preparation of biological materials for distribution to other laboratories, so as to facilitate global preparedness against these pathogens.
    • It will enable member states to share biological materials with and via the BioHub under pre-agreed conditions, including biosafety, biosecurity, and other applicable regulations.
    • In parallel, WHO will broaden its BioHub System for the use of biological materials by qualified entities – such as manufacturers – for the development of medical by-products for fair allocation to countries.
  • Significance:
    • The Covid-19 pandemic and other outbreaks and epidemics have underscored the importance of rapidly sharing pathogens to help the global scientific community assess the risk and develop countermeasures such as diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
      • Pathogens have been shared bilaterally between countries: A process that can be sluggish and deny the benefits to some.
    • This will ensure the timely sharing of epidemiological and clinical data as well as biological materials.
    • The move will help contribute to the establishment of an international exchange system for novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging pathogens.


  • Definition:
    • A pathogen is a biological agent that causes disease or illness. Zoonotic pathogen refers to pathogens naturally transmitted between animals and humans.
  • Types of Pathogens:
    • Virus:
    • Bacteria:
      • Bacteria are microorganisms made of a single cell. They are very diverse, have a variety of shapes and features, and have the ability to live in just about any environment, including in and on the body.
      • Examples of diseases caused by bacteria: Cholera, Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Plague, Syphilis, Anthrax etc.
    • Fungi:
      • Fungi can be found just about everywhere in the environment, including indoors, outdoors, and on human skin. They cause infection when they overgrow.
      • Examples of Fungal Infection: Mucormycosis, White Fungus, Yellow Fungus.
    • Parasites:
      • Parasites are organisms that behave like tiny animals, living in or on a host and feeding from or at the expense of the host. Though parasitic infections are more common in tropical and subtropical regions, they can occur anywhere.
      • Diseases caused by Parasite: Malaria, African trypanosomiasis, babesiosis, leishmaniasis, and toxoplasmosis etc.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance:
    • It is the resistance acquired by any microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc.) against antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics) that are used to treat infections.

Source: DTE

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