Project 81 BIOSEC: Making Progress in a Pandemic
by John Jones, P81 Project Leader, 23rd May 2022
As part of our project plan, the Project 81 team created a risk register in 2019. Amongst the risks listed was, “Natural disasters and infectious diseases”. Our proposed risk mitigation measure at that time was, “If it becomes unsafe or logistically impracticable to conduct a visit, training or workshop at the scheduled time, the Project Team Leader will seek to defer the visit and reschedule once the risk has passed.
Whilst we can congratulate ourselves on correctly identifying the risk, who could have predicted in 2019 that the time for the risk to pass would be in excess of two years?
In terms of project delivery, the main “casualty” of the pandemic continues to be the various in-country and regional workshops which have been rendered impossible by travel or quarantine restrictions and the fact that the main target audience for P81 is composed of the staff dealing with real-life public health issues. In addition, the ebbs and flows of the disease have brought with them constantly shifting restrictions on travel and self-isolation – often introduced at short notice.
Moving forward has therefore demanded a degree of flexibility which would have been impossible to anticipate when the original project plan was put in place. Nevertheless, flexibility in our approach has been the key to making progress during this period.
A good example was a visit to the National Focal Point in Bangkok as soon as restrictions eased in December 2021, which enabled some fact-finding and the joint identification of options for the future.
Some of the project work packages were always designed to be carried out mainly by correspondence – for example, the surveys of legislation in partner countries which are being delivered by a combination of questionnaires, desk-based research and online meetings with officials. Thanks to the continuing support of the National Focal Points, most of those surveys are now ready for review.
As vaccination programmes roll out and travel restrictions begin to ease across the SEA region further missions are now being planned for the coming months.
CBRN CoE Project 81 Webinar: “Trends in Project 81 Partner Countries’ Legislative Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic”
On 27 January 2022, Project 81 BIOSEC – Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia hosted a webinar entitled “Novel pathogen detection and sequencing”, There were 33 delegates from partner countries and international organisations participating in the event. The main aim of the webinar was to explore the different legal and regulatory tools applied to the control of COVID-19
The webinar was opened by Mr. John Jones, Team Leader and Key Expert for Project 81, who gave a brief overview of the project, with a welcome address from Attorney Florentino Manalastas, Alternate Head of Regional Secretariat for South East Asia. After a short update from the Team Leader, Dr Sonia Drobysz and her colleagues in VERTIC, delivered an analysis of the trends in legislation as part of the overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular focus on the international picture and the International Health Regulations and other legal obligations as well as the regional response in ASEAN countries.
CBRN CoE Project 81 Webinar: “Waste Management in Pandemics”
On 11 August 2021, Project 81 BIOSEC – Enhanced Biosecurity in South East Asia hosted the latest webinar in a series of webinars dedicated to developing surge capacity to respond to pandemics within the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE).
The webinar was opened by Mr. John Jones O.B.E., Team Leader and Key Expert for Project 81, with welcome addresses from Atty. Florentino Manalastas, Jr., Assistant Head of the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia (RS SEA) and Dr. Robert Frank, Regional Cooperation Officer for SEA for Global and Trans-Regional Threats. A panel of experts, including Dr. Christopher Logue, Public Health England (PHE), Dr. Alexander Hamilton, CBRN CoE Regional Coordinator for SEA, and Dr. Sabai Phyu, On-Site Assistance (OSA) Expert for SEA, were available to take questions from delegates.
The featured presentation was delivered by Mr. Thomas Pottage (PHE) who described the latest scientific data on the viability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a variety of surfaces and the implications for the management of waste materials generated in a variety of environments including healthcare and domestic waste.
The webinar attracted 55 delegates from across the SEA region as well as Barbados, Ghana, and Australia. Delegates posed questions about legislation and practical measures for the inactivation of waste (including waste water). Further information provided by PHE can be found in the 'Learning' section of this website.
CBRN CoE Project 81 Webinar: “Surge Capacity Assessment Tool”
On 21 July 2021, Project 81 BIOSEC – Enhanced Biosecurity in South-East Asia hosted a webinar as the first in a series of webinars dedicated to developing surge capacity to respond to pandemics within the context of the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative.
The webinar was attended by 73 delegates (predominantly from within the SEA region) and was opened by Mr. John Jones O.B.E., Team Leader and Key Expert for Project 81, with welcome addresses from Attorney Florentino Manalastas Jr., Alternate Head of the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia, Manila, and Dr. Robert Frank, Regional Cooperation Officer for South-East Asia – Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (Global and Trans-Regional Threats).
In his remarks, Atty. Manalastas spoke to the importance of WP7 as a means of supporting Partner Countries in South East Asia to not only more effectively respond to COVID-19 but also to be more fully prepared for future pandemics. Dr. Frank, in his address, described the overall context of Project 81 within the CBRN CoE Initiative and welcomed all participants.
Detailed presentations on the use of the newly-created Surge Capacity Assessment Tool (SCAT) for Laboratories were provided by Dr. Joris Sprokholt and Dr. Iris Vennis of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). A short panel discussion at the end of the webinar gathered perspectives from Prof. Stuart Blacksell, MORU Thailand, Dr. Tessy Joseph from the National University of Singapore and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Thuy of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Viet Nam.
The next webinar in the series will be held on 11 August 2021 and will address Waste Management issues during pandemics and future webinars will focus on End-to-end laboratory diagnosis (September), Preparedness and rapid response (October), New Variant sequencing (November) and Legal frameworks in pandemics (December). E-learning packages will be made available for some of the topics listed.
'Developing Surge Capacity for Pandemics' - Launch of Webinar Series - 30th June 2021
The project team is pleased to announce a series of monthly webinars that commence on the 21st July and continue through to the end of the year.
The first webinar will introduce an assessment tool for laboratory managers and operational personnel. The tool is designed to assist in the identification of areas which might require additional attention as part of preparations for a future or emerging epidemic. In due course invitations to all events will be circulated through National Focal Points.
Whilst final topics are yet to be confirmed, themes such as 'Preparedness & Response', 'End to End Laboratory Diagnosis' and 'New Variant Sequencing' are likely to be covered.
Webinar - WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual, 4th Edition - 9th February 2021
Prof. Stuart Blacksell led the latest in the series of webinars sponsored by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia. Entitled "Release of new WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual, 4th Edition: Implications for Labs in Low and Middle Income Countries and the Development of WHO COVID-19 Biosafety and Biosecurity Guidance", the webinar was well attended with a high volume of participation.
For those unable to attend the materials from the webinar will be available for the next 7 days at the following link - https://we.tl/t-inNaCUkzP4
Work Package 7 - COVID-19 - Launch Webinar - 24th November 2020
Team leader John Jones and project experts from VERTIC, PHE and RIVM launched a new workstream for the Project which is specifically focussed on COVID-19. Introduced as an additional work package by the European Commission, following the outbreak of the global pandemic, National Focal Points and key stakeholders were introduced to the approach, themes and online learning platforms planned to be used as part of the delivery mechanism. Conducted using Zoom, the webinar provided the opportunity for discussion and the sharing of thoughts across the region.
Regional Secretariat Webinars - October 2020
Our project team continued to support UNICRI and the EU CBRN Regional Secretariat for South East Asia with its COVID-19 related series of webinars throughout the month of October. On the 20th October, Dr's VU, Ngoc Long, NGUYEN Cong Khanh, NGUYEN Thanh Thuy and NGUYEN Dang Tho shared Viet Nam's experience of COVD-10 control and response. A week later Dr. Maria Suleiman relayed the Malaysian experience.
Project Co-ordination Meeting - 8th September 2020
Our next coordination meeting with key individuals from DG DEVCO, EU Regional Secretariat, Project 81 Key Experts and UNICRI is set for Tuesday the 8th September.
Webinar on 'Biological Inventory Database' - Friday 4th September
Dr Joris Sprokolt & Dr Saskia Rutjes from RIVM will be the guest speakers on this webinar organised by the Biorisk Association of Singapore & EU CBRN CoE.
Webinar - 18th August 2020
The seventh webinar in the series run by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia will be presented by the project team who will provide "An overview of International Activities in Response to COVID-19 - Part 2".
Tuesday 18 August @ 5pm (Manila time) / 11am (Brussels time)
Register for the webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Please feel free to share this invitation with others.
Webinar - 4th August 2020
The sixth webinar in a series run by the CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for South East Asia will be presented by CBRN CoE Project 81 - BIOSEC, who will provide "An Overview of International Activities in Response to COVID-19".
Details are as follows:
Tuesday 4 August @ 5pm (Manila time) / 11am (Brussels time)
To join Zoom Meeting:
951 9423 1713
Please feel free to share this invitation with others.