Reopening – call for experts from WHO regions of Africa and South-East Asia to join the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens (SAGO)



Reopening – call for experts from WHO regions of Africa and South-East Asia to join the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens (SAGO)

SAGO will advise the WHO Secretariat on technical and scientific considerations regarding emerging and re-emerging pathogens

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 27, 2021 / APO Group / –

WHO has received many excellent applications for the WHO Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens (SAGO), but is reopening applications for three days to attract additional applicants. WHO particularly wishes to encourage applications from the WHO regions of Africa and South-East Asia and from women. The call will open Monday through Wednesday September 27-29, closing at 24:00 CET on September 29.

Please note that if you have already submitted an expression of interest for SAGO, no further action is required on your part; this reopening is reserved for new expressions of interest.


The rapid emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 has highlighted the importance of being prepared for any future event, to be able to quickly identify new pathogens and address contributing risk factors. to their emergence and spread. In May 2020, the World Health Assembly, through resolution WHA73.1, requested the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue working closely with the World Health Organization (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and countries, as part of the One Health approach, to identify the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the route of entry into the human population.

There have been an increasing number of emerging and re-emerging high-risk pathogens in recent years with, for example, SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Nipah, avian influenza, the latest in date being SARS-CoV-2. There is not only a need for robust surveillance and early actions for rapid detection and mitigation efforts, but a need for robust and systematic processes to build the study around the emergence of these agents. pathogens and routes of transmission from their natural reservoirs to humans.

To this end, the Director-General has established the WHO Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (hereinafter referred to as “SAGO”). SAGO will advise the WHO Secretariat on technical and scientific considerations regarding emerging and re-emerging pathogens, and will be composed of experts acting in their personal capacity. It is established in accordance with the WHO Regulations for Study and Scientific Groups, Collaborating Institutions and other Collaborative Mechanisms.

Functions of SAGO

As an advisory body to WHO, SAGO will have the following functions:

Advise WHO on the development of a WHO global framework to define and guide studies on the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential; Advise WHO on the prioritization of studies and field surveys on the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential, in accordance with the WHO global framework described in point (1) above; Provide information and views to assist the WHO Secretariat in developing a detailed SAGO work plan; In the context of the origins of SARS-CoV-2: provide the WHO Secretariat with an independent assessment of all available scientific and technical findings from global studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2; Advise the WHO Secretariat on the development, monitoring and support of the next round of studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, including rapid advice on WHO operational plans to implement the next round of global studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, as shown in the report of the WHO-China Joint Global Study on the Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part released on March 30, 2021 and give advice on further studies if necessary; and Provide additional guidance and support to WHO, as requested by the WHO SAGO Secretariat, which may include participation in future WHO international missions to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2 or other emerging pathogens.

SAGO operations

SAGO meets regularly. The first meeting will take place in October 2021. SAGO meetings can be held in person or virtually (at WHO headquarters in Geneva or other location, as determined by WHO), by video or teleconference. SAGO meetings may be held in open session and / or in camera, as decided by the President in consultation with WHO. The working language of the group will be English. WHO may, in its sole discretion, from time to time invite outsiders to attend public sessions of an Advisory Group, or parts of it, as “observers”. SAGO may decide to create smaller working groups (SAGO sub-groups) to work on specific issues. SAGO members must attend meetings. The reports of each meeting are submitted by SAGO to the Director-General of WHO. All SAGO recommendations are advisory to WHO, which retains full control over all subsequent decisions or actions regarding any proposal, policy issue or other matter considered by SAGO. SAGO should normally make recommendations by consensus.

Who can express their interest?

SAGO will be multidisciplinary, with members who have a range of technical knowledge, skills and experience relevant to emerging and re-emerging pathogens. Up to 25 experts can be selected.

WHO welcomes expressions of interest from individuals with significant expertise in one or more of the following technical disciplines to ensure a One Health approach:

epidemiology of infectious diseases and carrying out epidemiological studies; field research; virology; ecology; molecular epidemiology; seroepidemiology; Medication; bioinformatics; epidemic analysis; health statistics; microbiology; veterinary Medicine; food safety; bacteriology; environmental sciences; biosecurity; biosecurity; occupational health and safety; safety and security of laboratories; ethics and social sciences; or other activities related to the emergence or re-emergence of potentially pandemic pathogens.

Submit your expression of interest

To express your interest in being considered for SAGO, please submit the following documents by September 29, 2021 midnight CET to using the subject line “Expression of Interest in SAGO”:

A motivation letter, indicating your motivation to apply and how you meet the selection criteria (maximum 500 words). Please note that, if selected, membership will be on a personal basis. So do not use letterhead or other identification of your employer); Your curriculum vitae; and A signed and completed Declaration of Interest (DOI) form for WHO experts, available at

After submission, your expression of interest will be reviewed by WHO. Due to an expected high volume of interest, only those selected will be notified. WHO intends to complete the selection of SAGO members by the end of September 2021 and to hold the first meeting in October 2021.

As noted above, if you have already submitted an expression of interest in SAGO, no further action is required on your part; this reopening is reserved for new expressions of interest.

Important information on selection processes and appointment conditions

Members of WHO advisory groups should be free from any real, potential or apparent conflict of interest. To this end, applicants are required to complete the WHO Declaration of Interest for WHO Experts, and selection as a member of SAGO depends, among other things, on the determination by WHO that there is no conflict of interest or that any identified conflict could be managed appropriately (in addition to WHO’s assessment of the candidate’s experience, expertise and motivation and ‘other criteria).

All members of SAGO will serve as individual experts and will not represent any government, industry or commercial entity, research, academic or civil society organization, or any other body, entity, institution or organization. They must fully comply with the WHO Expert Code of Conduct ( SAGO members will be required to sign and return a completed confidentiality agreement prior to the start of the first meeting.

At any time during the process, telephone interviews can be scheduled between a candidate and the WHO Secretariat to allow WHO to ask questions relating to the candidate’s experience and expertise and / or ” assess whether the candidate meets the criteria for membership of the GA concerned.

The selection of SAGO members will be made by WHO at its sole discretion, taking into account the following (non-exclusive) criteria: relevant technical expertise; experience in working on international and national policies; previous participation in international WHO missions to study the emergence of emerging and re-emerging pathogens; communication skills; and the ability to work constructively with people of different backgrounds and cultural orientations. SAGO members will also consider the need for diverse perspectives from different regions, especially low- and middle-income countries, and for gender balance.

If selected by WHO, proposed members will receive an invitation letter and memorandum of understanding. Appointment as a member of SAGO will be subject to the submission by the proposed member to WHO of a countersigned copy of these two documents.

WHO reserves the right to accept or reject any expression of interest, to cancel the open appeal process and to reject all expressions of interest at any time without incurring any liability to the applicant (s) concerned. and without any obligation to inform the candidate (s) concerned of the reasons for WHO’s action. WHO may also decide, at any time, not to proceed with the establishment of the SAGO, to dissolve an existing technical advisory group or to modify the work of the SAGO.

WHO will under no circumstances be obligated to disclose, or discuss with a candidate, how an expression of interest was assessed, or to provide any other information relating to the assessment / selection process or to indicate the reasons why a member was not chosen.

WHO can publish the names and a short biography of selected individuals on the WHO Internet.

SAGO members will not be remunerated for their services in connection with SAGO or otherwise. Travel and accommodation costs for SAGO members to attend SAGO meetings will be covered by WHO in accordance with its applicable policies, rules and procedures.

The appointment will be limited in time as indicated in the letter of appointment.

If you have any questions about this “Call for Experts”, please write to well in advance of the applicable deadline.

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