WHO creates a new team to study the origin of Covid-19

The World Health Organization has established a new panel of scientists. Its mission includes an attempt to revive a deadlocked investigation. Origin of coronavirus That caused a pandemic.

The 26-member team from countries such as the United States, China, India, Nigeria and Cambodia is larger than the 10-member international group of scientists. Sent to Wuhan earlier this year, The Chinese city that was the first confirmed location of Covid-19 in December 2019. To the team Broader authority to lead the investigation Like the Covid-19, it’s a future trend.

Global health experts say they may run into some of the same issues that hindered the efforts of the first team earlier this year. WHO officials say they are running out of time to look at Chinese blood samples and other important clues as to when, how and where the pandemic began.

“This is our best chance and may be our last chance to understand the origin of this virus,” said Mike, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergency Program, at least in a collective and collaborative way. Ryan told reporters on Wednesday. “We are in a very important moment.”

China has said it has completed its contributions to WHO’s efforts for months, sending teams to UN agencies to other countries, especially the United States, where laboratory accidents caused a pandemic. We are asking you to investigate if there is a possibility.At home, Beijing is frustrating WHO by tightening restrictions on how scientists can do research on this issue. Efforts to encourage research About the accuracy with which the virus first appeared in Wuhan.

International health experts are urging further research into clues to the origin of Covid-19, including a closer look at some of the earliest infectious diseases in central China.


Chinatopix / Associated Press

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the US Embassy in China, said: Future studies of Earth origin should and can only be carried out on this basis. “

The new team represents an attempt to move some of that research forward. This includes at least one virology, epidemiology, animal health expert, and laboratory biosafety expert.

Biosafety expert Kathrin Summermatter told a Swiss newspaper last year that lab-related outbreaks tend to infect a small number of staff trained to respond appropriately, so lab accidents do not seem plausible. Said. She did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Her February 2020 statement was similar to the statement of other scientists who said the virus had responded to public speculation at the time when it was deliberately created as a biological weapon in the laboratory.

WHO is a new team Membership is confirmed After a two week public consultation period. Hundreds of scientists have applied for participation.

The team includes six members from the international and Chinese teams who produced a report on the origin of the virus earlier this year, following a month-long visit to Wuhan. The report considers the virus to be most likely to come from bats, Spread to humans Through intermediate animals, and sought new scope of research.

The recommended study included an additional backtrace of how the earliest known cases were infected. Establish a more detailed understanding of which live animals were sold in the Wuhan market before the pandemic. Testing of blood samples stored in blood banks from late 2019. This includes parts of China where banks plan to dispose of samples in two years.

The first team said it was “very unlikely” that the virus would escape from Wuhan’s laboratory, as there are no known records of laboratories culturing the virus as much as it caused the pandemic. I concluded. Later, many other scientists, including WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adanom Gebreyes, criticized their conclusions.

Security guards outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a 2021 visit by the WHO team investigating the origin of the new coronavirus.


Thomas Peter / Reuters

The new WHO team also aims to begin investigating the origins of newly discovered viruses more quickly. Marion Coupmans, a Dutch virologist and member of both the WHO group visiting Wuhan and the newly formed team, proposed at a webinar earlier this year.

Dr. Tedros, Dr. Ryan, and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who are responsible for emerging infectious diseases and zoonotic diseases in the WHO Health Emergency Program, published an editorial in the journal Science on Wednesday.At least 4.8 million people died Has been hampered by politics.. They urged scientists to urgently carry out the research recommended by the first team and better prepare for the next outbreak.

Dr. Tedros and his co-authors also called for a deeper investigation into whether a laboratory accident in Wuhan could have caused a pandemic.

“Laboratory accidents cannot be ruled out until there is sufficient evidence to do so and their results are openly shared,” they write. “The scientific process has been hurt by politics, so the global scientific community must double its efforts to move the scientific process forward.”

Questions about the origin of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic resurfaced the debate about controversial types of research that could involve alterations in the genetic information of the virus. Daniela Hernandez of the WSJ describes the acquisition of features.Illustration: Sebastian Vega

Investigate the origin of Covid-19

Write to Betsy McKay betsy.mckay + And Drew Hinsho

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WHO creates a new team to study the origin of Covid-19

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