IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


29th March, 2024 Health


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Picture Courtesy: https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/who-launches-covinet-a-global-network-for-monitoring-coronaviruses/

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a new global laboratory network called CoViNet. This network aims to identify and monitor potentially dangerous new coronaviruses that could emerge in the future.

About CoViNet

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a global network of laboratories known as CoViNet to detect and monitor emerging coronaviruses, building upon the COVID-19 reference laboratory network established during the early days of the pandemic.
  • This initiative aims to enhance global surveillance and preparedness efforts against potential novel coronaviruses, including not only SARS-CoV-2 but also other coronaviruses like MERS-CoV.

Focus beyond COVID-19

  • While CoViNet will continue to track the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the cause of COVID-19), its focus extends to other coronaviruses, including MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus).
  • This broader approach is crucial because coronaviruses, as a large family of viruses, have a history of jumping from animals to humans and causing significant outbreaks. By monitoring various coronaviruses circulating in animals and humans, CoViNet can identify strains with pandemic potential early on.

Building on Existing Infrastructure

  • CoViNet leverages the WHO's existing COVID-19 reference laboratory network established during the pandemic's early stages. This network played a crucial role in confirming the presence of the virus. The experience and knowledge gained from this network will be invaluable in CoViNet's efforts.

Enhanced Scope

  • CoViNet integrates animal and environmental health surveillance alongside human health monitoring. This comprehensive "One Health" approach provides a broader picture of potential threats.
  • By understanding how coronaviruses circulate in animals and the environment, scientists can better predict their potential to spill over into humans and cause future outbreaks.

Supporting Low- and Middle-Income Countries

  • CoViNet will assist low- and middle-income countries in establishing more laboratories to effectively monitor coronaviruses of public health concern. This is essential for ensuring a globally coordinated response to emerging threats.
  • Strong laboratory capacity in all regions of the world is critical for early detection and rapid characterization of new viruses.

Timely Detection and Response

  • Acting director of WHO's Department of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention, emphasises the importance of CoViNet in ensuring the timely detection, monitoring, and assessment of coronaviruses that could pose significant public health risks.
  • Early detection is critical for implementing effective public health measures to contain outbreaks and mitigate their impact.

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

  • The emergence of COVID-19, the first "Disease X" identified by the WHO (a term used for an unknown but potentially severe pandemic threat), highlighted the need for increased vigilance.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the devastating impact that a coronavirus can have on global health, economy, and society. CoViNet is a direct outcome of the lessons learned from this pandemic.

Global Network with Local Action

  • CoViNet is a global network of 36 laboratories from 21 countries across all six WHO regions. Notably, three Indian laboratories are part of this network. These include:
    • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
    • Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology in Pune.
    • Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.

Data-Driven Decision Making

  • Virus sequencing and data collected through CoViNet will inform the decisions of WHO's Technical Advisory Groups. These groups include those focused on viral evolution (assessing SARS-CoV-2 mutations and variants) and COVID-19 vaccine composition.
  • By providing critical data on circulating coronaviruses, CoViNet will contribute to the development of more effective vaccines and diagnostics to combat these viruses.


  • Coronaviruses are a diverse group of RNA viruses that can cause diseases in both mammals and birds.
  • In humans and birds, they primarily affect the respiratory tract, leading to a spectrum of illnesses ranging from mild to severe. While some coronaviruses cause mild symptoms akin to the common cold, others have been associated with severe respiratory diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).


  • The initiative highlights the WHO's proactive approach towards preventing future pandemics. By establishing a global network for early detection and coordinated response, CoViNet can significantly improve preparedness for emerging coronavirus threats.


Q. Which of the following is the MAIN reason the World Health Organization (WHO) launched CoViNet?

A) To develop new vaccines for existing coronaviruses.

B) To improve global monitoring of coronaviruses.

C) To provide treatment recommendations for COVID-19 patients.

D) To shut down travel between countries with high coronavirus rates.

Answer: B