The 4th edition of the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual has been published
The 4th edition of the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual (LBM4) has finally been published by December 21st 2020. In addition to the manual itself, there are subject-specific monographs providing more detailed information on various topics of biosafety:
-Biosafety programme management.
-Biological safety cabinets and other primary containment devices.
-Personal protective equipment.
-Laboratory design and maintenance.
-Decontamination and waste management.
-Outbreak preparedness and resilience.
The 4th edition adopts a risk-based approach that discards the classification of biological agents into risk groups, as well as the concept of biosafety levels. Instead, it focuses on the specific situation, including the context of the laboratory, the competence of its personnel and the procedures on the biological agents. Following its approach, every measure to ensure biosafety is the result of the thorough assessment of the concrete risks.
For now, the 4th edition marks the first and most important step into biosafety without biosafety levels. It will change the way we think about biosafety, and it will challenge us to find the most practical, most sustainable, most economically feasible, the most situation-adequate solutions. However, the implications for especially the national regulations are not manifest yet.