WHO Sets Up New Expert Team To Investigate Origins Of Covid-19 Pandemic And Novel Diseases

source -china daily
  • China rejected the WHO’s request for a new in-depth investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in August 2021.

  • “If we are going to send teams to any other places, I believe it’s not to China because we have received international teams twice already." – Chen Xu (China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva)

WHO Sets Up New Expert Team To Investigate Origins Of Covid-19 Pandemic And Novel Diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday (Oct 13) that a team of experts would study novel diseases and prevent future pandemics, as well as revive the stalled investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 virus.

In addition to developing a new global framework for research into the origins of emerging diseases with epidemic and pandemic potential, the panel of 26 specialists will also look into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused COVID-19 global pandemic.

Aside from the COVID-19 crisis, a rising number of high-risk diseases have emerged or resurfaced in recent years, including MERS, bird flu viruses, Lassa, Marburg, and Ebola, among others.

A Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year.

“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks."

REPORTING COVID-19 ORIGINS

The WHO’s 26 nominees were selected from a pool of over 700 applications and represent a wide variety of scientific disciplines.

In addition, the WHO-designated team is subject to a two-week public consultation.

Christian Drosten, director of Berlin’s Institute of Virology, Yungui Yang of the Beijing Institute of Genomics, Jean-Claude Manuguerra of France’s Institut Pasteur, and Inger Damon of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are among them.

Vladimir Dedkov, Farag Elmoubasher, Thea Fischer, Marion Koopmans, Hung Nguyen, and John Watson were among the specialists on the joint WHO-China scientific team that investigated the origins of COVID-19.

According to the terms of reference, the group is required to provide the WHO with an independent evaluation of all known scientific and technical evidence from global studies on the origins of COVID-19.

It must also advise the UN health agency on how to develop, monitor, and support the next round of study into the virus’s origins. This may include “rapid advice" on the WHO’s operational preparations for implementing the next set of investigations into the origins of the pandemic, as well as recommendations on further studies.

source - bbc

LAB LEAK THEORY

Since the virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, the pandemic has killed over 4.85 million people and wreaked havoc on the global economy.

After considerable deliberation, a WHO team of foreign specialists travelled to Wuhan in January 2021 to write a first phase report in collaboration with their Chinese partners.

Their March report did not reach any strong conclusions, but it did evaluate four possibilities.

It was most likely that the virus spread from bats to people through an intermediary species, according to the researchers. It determined that a leak from Wuhan’s virology labs was “extremely unlikely."

However, the study was criticised for lacking transparency and access, as well as for not thoroughly examining the lab-leak theory.

In August, China rejected the WHO’s request for a new in-depth investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

source - reuters

NO TIME TO WASTE

According to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, SAGO will immediately evaluate what is now known, what is still unknown, and what needs to be done soon.

“I anticipate that the SAGO … will recommend further studies in China and potentially elsewhere," she told journalists.

“There’s no time to waste in this."

According to Michael Ryan, the WHO’s director of emergencies, it may be the “last chance to understand the origins of this virus" in a collaborative way.

Earlier in the day, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Chen Xu, told the UN correspondents’ association that SAGO’s work should not be “politicised."

“If we are going to send teams to any other places, I believe it’s not to China because we have received international teams twice already," he said.

“It’s time to send teams to other places."

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