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News > Germany

WHO To Use Big Data To Detect Future Pandemics

  • People wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy, April 30, 2021.

    People wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy, April 30, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 May 2021

Germany will finance a research center that will collect large amounts of information to predict potential epidemiological crises.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday announced the creation of a “Global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence,” a Berlin-based research center that will seek to detect pandemics in advance using big data and artificial intelligence.


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"Viruses move fast, but data can move even faster. With the right information, countries and communities can stay one step ahead of emergencies and save lives," WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference accompanied by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany will help finance the center with 30 million euros a year. Its aim will be to collect large amounts of information from various sources in order to try to predict large-scale epidemiological crises.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we can only fight pandemics and epidemics together. The new WHO hub will be a global platform for pandemic prevention, bringing together various governmental, academic and private sector institutions," Merkel pointed out.

The WHO Health Emergencies Programme director Mike Ryan explained that information on weather conditions, human mobility, or animal health could help scientists to detect epidemiological trends in time. Such data will allow the development of epidemiological risk models that will also enable the analysis of government responses to changing public health conditions.

Germany expects to have the new center up and running by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving unevenly in different regions. In the last week, while the number of infections decreased by 22 percent in Europe and 5 percent in the Americas, COVID-19 cases increased by 19 percent in South Asia.

The evolution of vaccination also shows marked regional differences. The largest number of vaccines were administered in China (283 million), the United States (247 million), India (157 million), the European Union (153 million), and the United Kingdom (48 million). 

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