database run by a multi-organisation initiative

Encyclopedia from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GISAID Initiative
FormationMay 2008; 14 years ago (May 2008)
TypeNonprofit organization
Public–private partnership
PurposeGlobal health, research, education
HeadquartersMunich, Germany
Area served
MethodDonations and grants
Key people
  • Peter Bogner, (president)[1]
  • Ron A. M. Fouchier and John W. McCauley (co-chairs Scientific Advisory Council)[2]

GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) is a global science initiative and primary source established in 2008 that provides open access to genomic data of influenza viruses[3] and the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.[4][5] On January 10, 2020, the first whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 were made available on GISAID, which enabled global responses to the pandemic,[6] including the development of the first vaccines[7] and diagnostic tests[8] to detect SARS-CoV-2. The database has become the world's largest repository for SARS-CoV-2 sequences. GISAID facilitates genomic epidemiology and real-time surveillance to monitor the emergence of new COVID-19 viral strains across the planet.[6][9]

Since its establishment as an alternative to sharing avian influenza data[10] via conventional public-domain archives,[3][11] GISAID has been recognized for incentivizing rapid exchange of outbreak data[11] during the H1N1 pandemic[12][13] in 2009, the H7N9 epidemic[14][15] in 2013, and the COVID-19 pandemic[16][17] in early 2020.

GISAID was recognized for its importance to global health by G20 health ministers in 2017,[18] and in 2020 the World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan called the data-science initiative "a game changer".[4]


The acronym GISAID found first mention in a correspondence letter published in the journal Nature in 2006,[19] putting forward an initial aspiration of creating a "consortium" for a new Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, whereby its members[11] would release data in publicly available databases up to six months after analysis and validation.[20]

A group of scientists at a meeting posing outdoors
GISAID Next Generation Sequencing Workshop (Institute Pasteur, Paris 2015)

Although no essential ground rules for sharing were established,[21] the correspondence letter was signed by over 70 leading scientists, including seven Nobel laureates, because access to the most current genetic data for the highly pathogenic H5N1 zoonotic virus was often restricted, in part due to the hesitancy of World Health Organization member states to share their virus genomes and put ownership rights at risk.[22]

It would take another 18 months until an international consensus on actual rules of the GISAID sharing mechanism could be reached among governments and researchers. Thus, GISAID officially launched[9] in May 2008 in Geneva on the occasion of the 61st World Health Assembly, as a publicly-accessible database rather than a consortium requiring membership.[11][12]


The GISAID model of incentivizing and recognizing those who deposit data has been recommended as a model for future initiatives.[23] Greater transparency and more timely sharing of sequence data has been a goal of many researchers and stakeholders alike. The GISAID platform spans national borders and scientific disciplines, with leaders in the fields of veterinary medicine, human medicine, bioinformatics, epidemiology, and intellectual property. This cross-disciplinary effort provides new means to communicate and share information, as each discipline has distinct interests but also shares similar goals. The Initiative came together in a way that gives credit to those submitting data and makes substantial efforts to work with and include them in collaborative analyses on viral sequence data, "further tipping the scales in favor of collaboration".[23] The notion of sharing not just data, but also the benefits of resulting research, represented a "paradigm shift" that puts contributors from higher and lower resource environments on more equal footing.[23]


Peter Bogner shakes hands with Robert Kloos
Official signing ceremony with GISAID President Peter Bogner (l) and German State Secretary Robert Kloos Source: BMELV (Berlin, April 2010)

The GISAID Initiative was initially funded by Peter Bogner—a strategic advisor and international broadcasting executive—who serves as its founder and principal facilitator. Bogner has been directing the build-up of this platform by bringing together the world's leading scientists and stakeholders who are actively committed to accelerating understanding of this potential human pandemic by rapidly sharing scientific data and results. In January 2006, Bogner met with US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and was told about the US government's preparedness concept on dealing with the potential of a flu pandemic.[24] Concerns about a pandemic scenario heightened.[25]

In November 2006, the Initiative received the endorsement of both The Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences.[26] In February 2007, it was announced that GISAID and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), which leads a Swiss consortium to manage the GISAID Database on influenza virus strains, had signed a cooperation agreement.[11] Under this agreement, the Geneva-based institute was to provide services for the secure storage and analysis of genetic, epidemiological, and clinical data.

In January 2007, Indonesia stopped sharing all H5N1 clinical samples with WHO. In March 2007, Siti Fadilah Supari, Indonesia's Minister of Health, announced[27] the Indonesian government supports the formation of the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Database (GISAID) following a high-level WHO meeting in Jakarta on Responsible Practices for Sharing Avian Influenza Viruses. In April 2007, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences reaffirmed its endorsement of GISAID, stating it shares the same ideals regarding free exchange and responsible sharing of information of avian influenza and emerging infectious diseases.

In 2008, GISAID was adopted by “WHO Collaborating Centers for Influenza” for entering sequence data from samples received from National Influenza Centers (NICs) in the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.

After a legal clash with the SIB,[28] in which GISAID was ultimately compelled by an arbitration tribunal to pay out more than $1M,[29][30] in April 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany announced during the 7th International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in Hanoi, Vietnam, that GISAID had entered into a cooperation agreement[31] with the German government, making Germany the long-term host of the GISAID platform.[32] Under the agreement, Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection BMELV, will ensure the sustainability of the initiative by providing through its Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) the technical hosting facilities[33] of the GISAID platform and EpiFlu™ database, located in Bonn. Germany's Federal Institute for Animal Health the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) located on the Isle of Riems, will ensure the plausibility and curation of scientific data in GISAID to meet scientific standards.

On January 10, 2020, the first SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences were released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and shared through GISAID.[7] Throughout 2020, huge volumes of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences sampled and analyzed all over the globe have been added to the GISAID database, rapidly shared by laboratories around the world.[34][35]

The AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami and GISAID announced in 2022 a collaboration on genetic sequencing, with AHF providing funding for sequencing projects and GISAID leveraging established educational programs.[36]

Database for SARS-CoV-2 genomes

GISAID maintains the world's largest repository of SARS-CoV-2 sequences.[37] From initially sharing the first complete genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 on January 10, 2020, by mid-April 2021, GISAID's SARS-CoV-2 database reached over 1,200,000 submissions, a testament to the hard work of researchers in over 170 different countries.[38] Only three months later, the number of uploaded SARS-CoV-2 sequences had doubled again, to over 2.4 million.[39] By late 2021, the database contained over 5 million genome sequences;[40] as of December 2021, over 6 million sequences had been submitted;[41] and by April 2022, there were 10 million sequences accumulated.[42]

Throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences that were generated and shared globally were submitted through GISAID.[43] When the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was detected in South Africa, by quickly uploading the sequence to GISAID, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases there was able to learn that Botswana and Hong Kong had also reported cases possessing the same gene sequence.[44]


GISAID's governance structure[45] provides for several organizational bodies that operate independently of each other, with the aim to guard against bias in decision-making. GISAID's administrative affairs are overseen by a board of trustees expected to minimize potential conflicts of interest concerning GISAID's funding sources. Scientific oversight of the initiative comes from its Scientific Advisory Council made up of directors of leading public health laboratories including all six WHO Collaborating Centres for Influenza, and directors of animal health reference laboratories for research on avian influenza for the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This governance structure is meant to improve the functional capabilities of the EpiFlu™ database managed by GISAID's Database Technical Group, composed of experts in virus sequencing and bioinformatics, who represent the user community to interact with software and developers of tools for analysis.[46]

Access and intellectual property

Unlike public-domain databases such as GenBank and EMBL, users of GISAID must have their identity confirmed and agree to a Database Access Agreement[47] that governs the way GISAID data can be used. These Terms of Use prevent users from sharing any data with other users who have not agreed to the Terms of Use. The Terms of Use require that users of the data must acknowledge the data generators in published work, and also make a reasonable attempt to collaborate with data generators and involve them in research and analysis that uses their data.

A difficulty that GISAID's Data Access Agreement attempts to address is that many researchers fear sharing of influenza sequence data could facilitate its misappropriation through intellectual property claims by the vaccine industry and others, hindering access to vaccines and other items in developing countries, either through high costs or by preventing technology transfer. While most public interest experts agree with GISAID that influenza sequence data should be made public, and this is the subject of agreement by many researchers, some provide the information only after filing patent claims while others have said that access to it should be only on the condition that no patents or other intellectual property claims are filed, as was controversial with the Human Genome Project.[48] GISAID's Data Access Agreement addresses this directly to promote sharing data. GISAID's procedures additionally suggest that those who access the EpiFlu database consult the countries of origin of genetic sequences and the researchers who discovered the sequences. As a result, the GISAID license has changed the field of viral sequence data analysis.

See also


  1. ^ huaxia (November 1, 2019). "Chinese experts call for global cooperation in flu prevention". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  2. ^ "Governance & Expertise: Scientific Advisory Council". GISAID. 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2020. The Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) comprises leading influenza scientists with expertise in epidemiology, human and veterinary virology and bioinformatics.
  3. ^ a b Shu, Yuelong; McCauley, John (2017). "GISAID: Global initiative on sharing all influenza data – from vision to reality". Eurosurveillance. 22 (13). doi:10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.13.30494. PMC 5388101. PMID 28382917.
  4. ^ a b Swaminathan, Soumya (December 17, 2020). "The WHO's chief scientist on a year of loss and learning". Nature. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  5. ^ Korber, Bette (August 20, 2020). "Tracking Changes in SARS-CoV-2 Spike: Evidence that D614G Increases Infectivity of the COVID-19 Virus". Cell. 182 (4): 812–827.e19. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.043. PMC 7332439. PMID 32697968. the global sampling of SARS-CoV-2 is being very capably addressed by the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database
  6. ^ a b "CEPI's collaborative task force to assess COVID-19 vaccines on emerging viral strains". BioSpectrum - Asia Edition. November 23, 2020. Retrieved December 24, 2020. GISAID is an essential component of COVID-19 R&D that enables real-time progress in the understanding of the geographical spread, circulation, and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
  7. ^ a b Polack, Fernando (December 10, 2020). "Safety and Efficacy of the mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine". New England Journal of Medicine. 383 (27): 2603–2615. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2034577. PMC 7745181. PMID 33301246. The development of BNT162b2 was initiated on January 10, 2020, when the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence was released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and disseminated globally by the GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) initiative.
  8. ^ Bohn, Mary Kathryn (October 7, 2020). "IFCC Interim Guidelines on Molecular Testing of SARS-CoV-2 Infection". Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. 58 (12): 1993–2000. doi:10.1515/cclm-2020-1412. PMID 33027042.
  9. ^ a b Jameel, Shahid (April 2, 2020). "Coronavirus pandemic highlights key need for science and partnerships". The Telegraph (Kolkata). Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  10. ^ McDowell, Robin (May 15, 2008). "Indonesia hands over bird flu data to new database". Fox News. Associated Press. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e Elbe, Stefan; Buckland-Merrett, Gemma (January 10, 2017). "Data, disease and diplomacy: GISAID's innovative contribution to global health". Global Challenges. 1 (1): 33–46. doi:10.1002/gch2.1018. PMC 6607375. PMID 31565258.
  12. ^ a b Schnirring, Lisa (June 25, 2009). "Pandemic reveals strengths of new flu database". Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  13. ^ "Viral gene sequences to assist update diagnostics for swine influenza A(H1N1)" (PDF). World Health Organization. April 25, 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  14. ^ "The fight against bird flu". Nature. 496 (7446): 397. April 24, 2013. doi:10.1038/496397a. PMID 23627002.
  15. ^ Larson, Christina (April 10, 2013). "CDC Races to Create a Vaccine for China's Latest Bird Flu Strain". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  16. ^ Prasad, R. (January 19, 2020). "What is the source of the new SARS-like disease reported in China?". The Hindu. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  17. ^ Ng, Kang-chung (January 12, 2020). "Wuhan pneumonia: Hong Kong set to develop new test for mystery virus after obtaining genetic sequence from mainland China". South China Morning Post. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  18. ^ G20 (May 20, 2017). "Berlin Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers" (PDF). German Ministry of Health. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  19. ^ Zamiska, Nicholas (August 30, 2006). "A Nonscientist Pushes Sharing Bird-Flu Data'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  20. ^ Bogner, Peter; Capua, Ilaria; Lipman, David; Cox, Nancy (August 30, 2006). "A global initiative on sharing avian flu data". Nature. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  21. ^ "Editorial, Boosting access to disease data". Nature. 442 (7106): 957. August 31, 2006. doi:10.1038/442957a. PMID 16943803.
  22. ^ McDowell, Robin (May 18, 2008). "Indonesia will add its data to global bird-flu Web site". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 19, 2020. China, Russia and other nations that have long withheld influenza-virus samples and DNA-sequencing data from the international community are also taking part in the initiative, saying it offers full transparency and, for the first time, basic protection of intellectual-property rights.
  23. ^ a b c LoTempio, Jonathan; Spencer, D'Andre; Yarvitz, Rebecca; Vilain, Arthur Delot; Vilain, Eric; Délot, Emmanuèle (August 19, 2020). "We Can Do Better: Lessons Learned on Data Sharing in COVID-19 Pandemic Can Inform Future Outbreak Preparedness and Response". Science & Diplomacy – via AAAS. GISAID further required that data users not only give credit to data submitters, but make maximum efforts to work with and include them in joint analyses on viral sequence data, further tipping the scales in favor of collaboration. This mandated sharing of not only data, but the benefits of research, has resulted in a paradigm shift which helps to put contributors from higher or lower resource settings on the same footing. ... Adopting a system of credit sharing similar to GISAID's would ensure that regardless of resource setting, data depositors are incentivized and recognized.
  24. ^ Zamiska, Nicholas (August 31, 2006). "A Nonscientist Pushes Sharing Bird-Flu Data". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  25. ^ Editorial (February 2006). "The year of bird flu". Nature Immunology. 7 – via Nature. This heightened concern exists...
  26. ^ "Pandemic influenza: science to policy" (PDF). The Royal Society & the Academy of Medical Sciences. 36/06: 12. November 2006. We recommend that the UK government supports the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data and ensures that government and publicly funded laboratories put in place plans to publish all surveillance data (R12).
  27. ^ "Indonesia supports formation of bird flu data exchange center". Xinhua News Agency, People Daily, P.R. China. April 1, 2007.
  28. ^ Flu database rocked by legal row. Nature. 2009.
  29. ^ Global Institute on Sharing All Influenza Data v. Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, SCAI Case No. 300142-2009. JusMundi.
  30. ^ Memorandum Opinion of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. JusMundi.
  31. ^ "Influenza pathogen database of global significance set up in Bonn". BMEL Homepage. April 15, 2010. Archived from the original on January 3, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  32. ^ "Germany's Statement on Substantive Issues and Concerns Regarding the PIP Framework and its Implementation, Special Session of the PIP Advisory Group, October 13, 2015" (PDF). World Health Organization, Geneva. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  33. ^ "GISAID Datenbank liefert grundlegende Informationen für Bekämpfungsstrategien" (PDF). BLE Homepage. April 16, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 3, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  34. ^ Ryan, Valerie (August 10, 2020). "SARS-CoV-2 virus strains circulating in Ireland identified". Irish Medical Times. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  35. ^ Thomas, Liji (June 28, 2020). "Genomics used to trace origin of SARS-CoV-2 in Canada". News Medical. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  36. ^ "AHF's Global Public Health Institute & GISAID Team Up on Genomic Sequencing". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. April 12, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  37. ^ "Hochul Extends Mask Mandate, Debuts New Surge Plan as NY Smashes Case Record Again". NBC New York. December 31, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  38. ^ Maxmen, Amy (April 23, 2021). "One million coronavirus sequences: popular genome site hits mega milestone". Nature. More than 1.2 million coronavirus genome sequences from 172 countries and territories have now been shared on a popular online data platform
  39. ^ Press Trust of India (July 22, 2021). "OPrevalence of COVID-19's Delta variant among specimens sequenced over past 4 weeks exceeded 75%: WHO". The Hindu. as of July 20, a total of over 2.4 million SARS-CoV-2 sequences have been submitted to GISAID
  40. ^ Varela, Anna (November 16, 2021). "Georgia State Researchers Develop Rapid Computer Software To Track Pandemics As They Happen". Georgia State University. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  41. ^ Maxmen, Amy (December 16, 2021). "Omicron blindspots: why it's hard to track coronavirus variants". Nature. 600 (7890): 579. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-03698-7. PMID 34916668. S2CID 245262198.
  42. ^ Lightfoot, Colin (April 13, 2022). "The transmission dynamics of key SARS-CoV-2 mutations revealed by subtyping in new study". News Medical. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  43. ^ Munnink, Bas (September 9, 2021). "The next phase of SARS-CoV-2 surveillance: real-time molecular epidemiology". Nature Medicine. 27 (9): 1518–1524. doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01472-w. PMID 34504335. S2CID 237468106. During the first year of the pandemic, a large number of SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences were generated from all around the world and shared, mostly through GISAID.
  44. ^ Cocks, Tim (November 30, 2021). "How South African scientists spotted the Omicron COVID variant". Reuters. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  45. ^ "GISAID Governance structure". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  46. ^ "GISAID-WHO Training Workshop, Genetic Analyses of Influenza Viruses", St. Petersburg". Ministry of Healthcare of the Russian Federation. August 28–29, 2014.
  47. ^ "GISAID Database Access Agreement". Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  48. ^ Lawson, Charles (October 7, 2016). "Open Access DNA, RNA and Amino Acid Sequences: The Consequences and Solutions for the International Regulation of Access and Benefit Sharing" (PDF). Journal of Law and Medicine. 24 (1): 96–118. PMID 30136777. Retrieved December 21, 2021.

Further reading

External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - GISAID