The location is right out of a spy thriller: crystal waterways below, snow-capped Swiss Alps above, and a high-security laboratory investigating the world’s worst viruses in between.
Spiez Laboratory, which has been investigating chemical, biological, and nuclear threats since World War II, was tasked by the World Health Organization last year to be the first in a global network of high-security laboratories that will grow, store, and share newly discovered microbes that could unleash the next pandemic.
The WHO’s BioHub initiative was inspired, in part, by the difficulties researchers had in obtaining samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was discovered in China, in order to understand its hazards and create instruments to combat it.
However, little over a year later, scientists participating in the initiative have run some roadblocks.
The initial part of the research included acquiring the assurances required to receive coronavirus variant samples from many nations. Some of the world’s most powerful countries may refuse to participate. Furthermore, there is no system in place to share samples for the development of vaccines, treatments, or testing without infringing on intellectual property rights.