The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the fact that biosafety, biosecurity and effective regulatory management of global disease threats to humans, animals and plants, are critical for public health control by national and international organizations, now more than ever before. Every corner of the world has experienced the severe public health and economic impacts of SARS CoV-2, the newly emerged virus that does not recognize international borders.

International networking and co-operation are imperative elements in the continued development of knowledge and expertise, and in promoting more global or mutually complementary responses to emerging health threats.

The International Experts Groups of Biosafety and Biosecurity Regulators (IEGBBR) was formed in 2007 under the leadership of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The IEGBBR is made up of biosafety and/or biosecurity regulatory authorities from 11 member countries that have strong regulatory oversight systems in place for biosafety and biosecurity. The World Health Organization and the World Organization Organisation for Animal Health are non-member observers.

Member countries (in order of flags): Australia (AU), Canada (CA), Switzerland (CH), Germany (DE), Denmark (DK), France (FR), Japan (JP), the Netherlands (NL), Singapore (SG), United Kingdom (UK), and United States (US).

The IEGBBR is governed by a Steering Committee, with one country from each of the three regions (Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific) serving as chair, co-chair, and member. The IEGBBR has face-to-face meetings every 18 months to 2 years, and the location rotates between the members’ regions. The 8th biennial meeting was held virtually in March 2021, due to pandemic impacts.

Purpose of IEGBBR

The expert group shares knowledge and experience and provides lessons learned from the perspectives of their established regulatory systems. One of the goals of the IEGBBR is to strengthen international biosafety and biosecurity by sharing expertise and lessons learned from the perspectives of our established regulatory regimes with the global community. To do so, the IEGBBR develops reference tools and materials that are relevant to all countries, including developing countries and countries that already have established biosafety and biosecurity oversight frameworks. This is due to the universal nature of the IEGBBR’s reference materials that can benefit the international community, regardless of level of development or resources. The work of the IEGBBR therefore contributes to multiple aspects of the development and strengthening of global health security, in particular the strengthening of international biosafety and biosecurity oversight.

We would like to thank Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program for providing the funding for IEGBBR projects and the IEGBBR Secretariat.