GENEVA, Switzerland – Following a public call for experts, the World Health Organization (WHO), yesterday announced proposed members of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). The SAGO will advise WHO on the development of a global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2.
“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad range of expertise. We are very pleased with the calibre of experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer.”
Selected from more than 700 applications, the 26 proposed SAGO members have expertise in a range of areas, including epidemiology, animal health, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, biology, food safety, biosafety, biosecurity, and public health. The composition of the SAGO reflects geographic and gender diversity.
As per WHO processes, there will now be a two-week public consultation period for WHO to receive feedback on the proposed SAGO members and set in place the modalities for the SAGO’s first meeting, which is planned to take place following this consultation period.
The final membership to the SAGO is subject to the above-mentioned public consultation period and relevant WHO practices and procedures.
- List of proposed SAGO members
- Today, Dr Tedros, Dr Michael Ryan and Dr Maria Van Kerkhove published an editorial outlining the work of the SAGO
- Terms of Reference of the SAGO
Functions of the SAGO
In its capacity as an advisory body to WHO, the SAGO will have the following functions:
- To advise WHO on the development of a WHO global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential;
- To advise WHO on prioritizing studies and field investigations into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, in accordance with the WHO global framework described in point (1) above;
To provide information and views to assist the WHO Secretariat in the development of a detailed work plan of the SAGO; in the context of SARS-CoV-2 origins:
- To provide the WHO Secretariat with an independent evaluation of all available scientific and technical findings from global studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2;
- To advise the WHO Secretariat regarding developing, monitoring and supporting the next series of studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, including rapid advice on WHO’s operational plans to implement the next series of global studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, as outlined in the Joint WHO-China Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part report published on 30 March 2021 and advise on additional studies as needed; and
To provide additional advice and support to WHO, as requested by the WHO SAGO Secretariat, which may include participation in future WHO-international missions to study the origins of SARS-CoV-2 or for other emerging pathogens.