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GENEVA: Switzerland signed a deal with the World Health Organization on Monday to host a global repository for viruses with pandemic potential to bolster international defences against emerging threats.

The BioHub laboratory will store and analyse pathogens from across the globe and enhance the rapid sharing of information between labs around the world.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it would be a “reliable, safe, and transparent mechanism for member states to voluntarily share pathogens and clinical samples”. The memorandum of understanding was signed at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, as the UN health agency kicked off its annual main assembly of member states. The facility will be hosted at the Swiss defence ministry’s biological safety laboratories in the lakeside town of Spiez.

“Close international collaboration to ensure the timely sharing of epidemiological and clinical data as well as biological materials is of utmost importance,” Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset told the World Health Assembly.

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