New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) said its new advisory group on dangerous pathogens could be the last chance to determine the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on Wednesday, then urged China to provide data on the first cases.
A WHO-led team spent four weeks in and around Wuhan earlier this year with Chinese scientists and said in a joint report in March that the virus was likely transmitted from bats to humans by through another animal, but more research was needed.
According to known information, the first case of Covid-19 was reported in December 2019 in Wuhan. China, which has repeatedly rejected theories of a lab leak, said no further visit was necessary.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the investigation was hampered by a lack of raw data regarding the early days of the outbreak’s spread and called for inquiries. laboratory audits.
On Wednesday, WHO appointed 26 proposed members of its Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGOs). Among them, Marion Koopmans, Thea Fischer, Hung Nguyen, and Chinese animal health experts Yang Yungui, who participated in the joint investigation in Wuhan.
According to Reuters, Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical officer for COVID-19, said further WHO-led international missions to China will be hosted with the country’s cooperation. She told a press conference that “more than three dozen recommended studies” still need to be conducted to determine how the virus got from animal species to humans.
She reportedly said Chinese tests for antibodies among Wuhan residents in 2019 would be “absolutely critical” to understanding the origins of the virus, Van Kerkhove said.
Meanwhile, Chen Xu, Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told a separate press conference that the findings of the joint study were “pretty clear,” adding that as international teams already had been sent to China twice, “it’s time to send teams to other places.”
“I think if we are going to continue scientific research, I think it should be a joint effort based on science and not by intelligence agencies,” Chen told Reuters. “So if we’re going to talk about anything, we’re doing the whole thing with the SAGO framework.”