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The current project is a Dutch initiative launched within the framework of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. This three-and-a-half year RIVM project was officially launched in July 2020. The project aims to assist countries in Southeast and Eastern Europe (SEEE) and in additional WHO EURO countries to develop their capacity on biosafety and biosecurity indicators in a regional context. As countries in this region have already shown commitment to improve their national health security, the project focusses on addressing existing and self-declared biosafety and biosecurity needs, requirements and gaps. RIVM has been active in this region in earlier EU European Union (European Union) CBRN Chemical Biological Radiology and nuclear (Chemical Biological Radiology and nuclear) Centres of Excellence projects (P44, P53), in which regional networks were built, and national and regional training exercises delivered. Activities in the current project will be aligned to WHO EURO activities on strengthening laboratory diagnostics for high threat pathogens in this region.

Goal of the project

The overall goals of the project are to support biosecurity prioritized actions in the SEEE region. Informed by national needs, RIVM aims to implement existing biosecurity tools that have been developed by RIVM experts and tools that are recognized by the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR) as crucial to biosecurity capabilities. The project aims to develop and contribute to novel biosecurity tools and resources as seen fit  for regional needs. In addition, RIVM aims to support SEEE Countries with National Biosecurity Assessments, implementation of IHR biosafety and biosecurity capacities, and support with implementation of National Inventories of Dangerous Pathogens. To align RIVM activities with ongoing work in the region, RIVM collaborates with regional organizations and experts, international committees and stakeholders already present in the region.

Who is involved 

This project is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the framework of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. RIVM executes the project. 
RIVM works together with other partners in the region, including Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), Institut für Mikrobiologie der Bundeswehr (IMB), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Biosafety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus (BACAC), CBRN Centers of Excellence Project 53 (P53), CBRN Centers of Excellence secretariats of the South East and East-ern Europe region and Central Asia region (EU CBRN CoE), World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), U.S. Department of State (GDIT), International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), and Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) and other Health Security Partners.

Products

  • In June and September 2020 RIVM has conducted two webinars in collaboration with WHO for Kazakh participants, providing biosafety and biosecurity guidance and resources in the context of COVID-19. A recording of the webinar is available on request.
  • Together with IMB, RIVM has written a whitepaper to the 2022 BACAC conference on biosafety and biosecurity, that was discussed during the conference. Afterwards the whitepaper was adapted with discussions from the conference. The adapted paper “Biosafety and biosecurity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond” was published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. Rutjes SA, Vennis IM, Wagner E, Maisaia V and Peintner L (2023) Biosafety and biosecurity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 11:1117316.  
  • Several biosecurity resources were translated to Russian language to make them more accessible to the SEEE region.

Highlights

  • In June and September 2020 RIVM has conducted two webinars in collaboration with WHO for Kazakh participants, providing biosafety and biosecurity guidance and resources in the context of COVID-19. A recording of the webinar is available on request.
  • In November 2021, IMB organized an online symposium “Know your pathogens - Eurasian Symposium on Biological Health Hazards”, where RIVM was invited as keynote lecture speaker to present the Dual-Use Quickscan
  • In 2022, in collaboration with representatives from Georgia (NCDC and EU CBRN CoE) and EU CBRN CoE P53, a train the trainer program was conducted on basic biosafety, biological risk assessment, dual-use, and how to train new trainers. The training was provided to Georgian participants using a blended learning method starting with an online training to train basic knowledge, followed by practical on-site training. 
  • In October 2022, the Biosafety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus (BACAC) organized a regional conference. RIVM organized several workshops on laboratory biorisk assessment during the pre-conference program. 
  • Together with IMB, RIVM has written a whitepaper to the 2022 BACAC conference on biosafety and biosecurity, that was discussed during the conference. Afterwards the whitepaper was adapted with discussions from the conference. The adapted paper “Biosafety and biosecurity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond” was published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. Rutjes SA, Vennis IM, Wagner E, Maisaia V and Peintner L (2023) Biosafety and biosecurity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 11:1117316. 
  • Several biosecurity resources were translated to Russian language to make them more accessible to the SEEE region.

RIVM role

RIVM coordinates and executes the project. RIVM seeks collaboration with other partners in the region to build upon previous activities and efforts.