We have been working on the concept of a Virtual Biorepository System since 2019, though the work was sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, chaotic and fragmented control measures implemented throughout the pandemic reaffirmed the need for easy access to well-characterized, representative samples (as proposed in the VBS).

Access to well-characterized specimens and associated metadata for high-threat pathogens is crucial for research, diagnostics, and therapeutics. There is currently a significant unmet need in this area. In the face of emergent infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics, a global effort is required to respond effectively. As part of the global health community, our timeliness, knowledge, and readiness could be critical in halting the spread of diseases and saving lives.  

We know that new disease threats can emerge from anywhere and recognize that not every country has access to a central biorepository or the resources to manage this locally. With limited resources, specimen quality can vary and access can be inequitable due to cost, storage, and administrative barriers. These challenges impede response and control efforts.

The purpose of the VBS is to build a globally-sourced collection of well-characterized human specimens that are owned and managed by the participating laboratory/institution. These specimens will be set aside for sharing and used for calibrating the diagnostic tests that allow for evaluating vaccine efficacy, surveillance, and research.  Establishing the VBS will provide a platform for collaboration and resiliency that can contribute to global pandemic preparedness and technological resilience.