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03. September 2021

President MC Ramaphosa Sent Audio Message for the Opening of the New WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin

On 1 September 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus inaugurated the "WHO Hub for pandemic and epidemic intelligence" in Berlin.  Merkel had been a key developer of the idea to set up such an early warning centre in Berlin. This hub strives to monitor information about the pandemic worldwide, bring together experts, provide sound analyses to predict pandemics and to coordinate the WHO member states in fighting global health issues such as corona. 

At present, the centre is housed at the University Hospital Charité in Berlin Mitte and will move to Berlin Kreuzberg with the aid of the business development agency Berlin Partner, which found the premises. 

Chancellor Merkel praised Berlin as the site of the early warning centre: "There will be many ideas here, I am sure," she said. Ghebreyesus stated that "solutions will be developed in Berlin that will then be applied all over the world".

Ahead of the inauguration, the University Hospital Charité and WHO had signed a cooperation agreement, demonstrating their close ties. According to reports, Charité head Heyo Kroemer and his contacts were instrumental in the WHO's decision to move to Berlin. Berlin's high-performance health business scene, consisting of science and old as well as young data companies, also tipped the scales in favour of locating in Berlin. Among the organisations that intend to work with the hub and provide insights, are the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam with its expertise in computer science and its Digital Health Centre, as well as climate researchers and experts from other disciplines.

At the ceremony, participating scientists cited no less than the Swiss-based nuclear research centre Cern with its huge particle accelerator as a model and source of inspiration for the WHO Hub. Here, as there, it should be about scientific excellence, open science and cooperation across borders. In this respect, a campus is also planned around the hub, where scientists, companies and start-ups can cooperate with the WHO experts. Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) therefore spoke of a "special day for Berlin as a centre of science".

During the ceremony the WHO Global Leadership Award was bestowed to Federal Chancellor Merkel by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his capacity as WHO Director-General.

His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa sent an audio message for the opening of the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin on 1 September 2021. |+| Watch on SAE Twitter or |+|SAE  Facebook.

Nigerian epidemiologist Chikwe Ihekweazu, the future head of the hub, who worked at the Berlin RKI 20 years ago, referred to a BER airport advertisement that he noticed once"Things seem impossible until you do them." He added: "What we are trying to do here is almost impossible. But we have the responsibility to do it."

In a further step to tackle the current corona pandemic, Berlin has now started to vaccinate particularly vulnerable groups for a third time. This concerns persons who had been fully vaccinated at least six months ago, very old citizens, and those in need of care or with immune disorders. Mobile vaccination teams started with booster vaccinations in care facilities on 1 September 2021. 

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