United Nations/Geneva: Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, a leading Indian epidemiologist, has been named to an expert group launched by the WHO that will examine origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Gangakhedkar, the former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is the Dr C.G. Pandit National Chair at the ICMR.

The World Health Organisation on Wednesday announced the 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.

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The global health organisation said that after careful consideration of all applications submitted to WHO, the 26 scientists who come from several countries, were selected and their names proposed for membership of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO).

The members are to serve in their personal capacities to represent the broad range of disciplines relevant to emerging and re-emerging pathogens.

“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.”



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