Samuel Case, FISM News
The WHO has plans to launch a second phase of the investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China and further explore the possibility of the lab leak theory.
In March the WHO released a 400-page investigative report into coronavirus origins that was criticized, including by members of the WHO, for the amount of influence China had over the findings. The original report asserted that it was “extremely unlikely” COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that it jumped to bats to another unknown animal, and then spread to humans.
Following the criticism, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his opening remarks at the Member State Information Session on Origin said that the March report “filled in several knowledge gaps, and identified areas for further study.”
Dr. Ghebreyesus outlined five areas requiring further inquiry:
First, integrated studies of humans, wildlife, captive and farmed animals, and environment, as part of a One Health approach.
Second, studies prioritizing geographic areas with the earliest indication of circulation of SARS-CoV-2, and neighbouring areas where other SARS-related coronaviruses have been found in non-human reservoirs;
Third, studies of animal markets in and around Wuhan, including continuing studies on animals sold at the Huanan wholesale market;
Fourth, studies related to animal trace-back activities, with additional epidemiology and molecular epidemiology work, including early sequences of the virus;
And fifth, audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019.
Dr. Ghebreyesus did not mention how the WHO intends to keep the second investigation untainted from Chinese influence; the very reason a follow up is necessary.
Later in his remarks the Director-General directly thanked China, and agreed with them “that finding the origins of this virus is a scientific exercise that must be kept free from politics.” He followed that with an expectation for “China to support this next phase of the scientific process by sharing all relevant data in a spirit of transparency.”
Dr. Ghebreyses also announced the WHO will be “establishing a permanent International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens,” which “will play a vital role in the next phase of studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, as well as the origins of future new pathogens.”