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Fiocruz joins new WHO network for global coronavirus surveillance


Max Gomes (lOC/Fiocruz)


The Laboratory of Respiratory Viruses, Exanthematics, Enteroviruses and Viral Emergencies of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz) is part of a new cooperation network of the World Health Organization (WHO) to monitor the different types of coronavirus. Called CoViNet, the initiative is an offshoot of the network of reference laboratories set up by WHO at the start of the public health emergency caused by Sars-CoV-2. The group brings together 36 laboratories from 21 countries with expertise in coronavirus surveillance in humans, animals and the environment.

The main objective of the new network is to broaden the scope of surveillance beyond Sars-CoV-2, coordinating global efforts for the early detection, monitoring and assessment of other coronaviruses, such as Mers-CoV, and any new strains that may pose a risk to Public Health. The data generated by CoViNet will guide the work of the Organization's Technical Advisory Groups on Viral Evolution (TAG-VE) and Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC), ensuring that global health policies and tools are based on the latest and most accurate scientific information.

The IOC's Laboratory of Respiratory Viruses, Exanthematics, Enteroviruses and Viral Emergencies [formerly the Respiratory Virus and Measles Laboratory] has collaborated with the WHO on respiratory virus surveillance for more than six decades. Before confirming the circulation of Sars-CoV-2 in Brazil, the laboratory had already established the diagnostic procedure to be used in the country and trained teams from various states, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, and from Latin American countries, together with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

As the pandemic progressed, the laboratory was designated as a WHO reference for Sars-CoV-2 and its director, Marilda Siqueira, was one of the scientists invited to join the TAG-VE, a select group of researchers who advise the Organization on viral evolution. To generate data on the Sars-CoV-2 genome in Brazil, the laboratory is part of the Fiocruz Genomics Network, a project that brings together experts from all the Foundation's units and partner institutions to monitor the strains and genetic mutations of the new coronavirus and contribute to better preparing the country to face the pandemic in terms of more accurate diagnosis and effective vaccines.

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