First meeting of Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens

WHO´s Scientific Advisory
Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) held its first meeting yesterday.

The meeting was largely
procedural, and included the appointment of the Chair (Dr. Marietjie Venter
from South Africa) and Vice-Chair (Dr Jean-Claude Manuguerra from France).

As per established WHO
procedures for advisory expert groups, SAGO meetings will not
be public. WHO will provide updates on their work as appropriate.  

The group agreed to meet
frequently and focus urgently on advising on the overarching framework to study
the emergence of novel pathogens, as well as to rapidly undertake an assessment
of the current understanding of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 , the virus that
causes COVID-19.

SAGO is composed of
experts acting in a personal capacity and will work
with additional experts from various technical areas as needed. 

In its capacity as an
advisory body to WHO, the SAGO will have the following functions, as per its
terms of reference:  

  1. 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;  
  2. 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;  
  3. 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 other
    emerging pathogens. 

Public Release. More on this here.