• World
  • Mar 28

WHO launches CoViNet

• The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new network for coronaviruses — CoViNet — to facilitate and coordinate global expertise and capacities for early and accurate detection, monitoring and assessment of SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and novel coronaviruses of public health importance.

• CoViNet expands on the WHO COVID-19 reference laboratory network established during the early days of the pandemic.

• Initially, the lab network was focused on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but will now address a broader range of coronaviruses, including MERS-CoV and potential new coronaviruses. 

• CoViNet is a network of global laboratories with expertise in human, animal and environmental coronavirus surveillance.

• The network currently includes 36 laboratories from 21 countries in all six WHO regions.

• Translational Health Science and Technology Institute and Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology, Pune are part of the network from India.

• The CoViNet meeting brings together global experts in human, animal, and environmental health, embracing a comprehensive One Health approach to monitor and assess coronavirus evolution and spread. 

• The collaboration underscores the importance of enhanced surveillance, laboratory capacity, sequencing, and data integration to inform WHO policies and support decision-making.

• This new global network for coronaviruses will ensure timely detection, monitoring and assessment of coronaviruses of public health importance.

• Data generated through CoViNet’s efforts will guide the work of WHO’s Technical Advisory Groups on Viral Evolution (TAG-VE) and Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC) and others, ensuring global health policies and tools are based on the latest scientific information.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

• Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

• Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

• It usually spreads between people in close contact.

• Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. 

• Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age. 

• The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols. 

• COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against severe illness and death. Although a person can still get COVID-19 after vaccination, they are more likely to have mild or no symptoms.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

• Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

• MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, which means that it is transmitted between animals and people. Studies have shown that humans are infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels, although the exact route of transmission remains unclear.

• Approximately 35 per cent of cases reported to WHO have died.

• Human-to-human transmission is possible and has occurred predominantly among close contacts and in health care settings. This includes family and household members, health care workers and other patients. The largest outbreaks have occurred in health care facilities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and South Korea.

• MERS-CoV infections range from showing no symptoms (asymptomatic) or mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease and death.

• A typical presentation of MERS-CoV disease is fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is a common finding, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.

• No vaccine or specific treatment are currently available, however several MERS-CoV specific vaccines and treatments are in clinical development.

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