The data The World Health Organization has unveiled a team of scientists who want to relaunch the stalled investigation into Covid -19 's, with a senior official saying it may be thelast chance.
The group of 26 experts will be tasked with producing a new global framework for studies on the origins of emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential - and their mandate includes Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Michael Ryan, WHO 's emergency director, said this could be the "last chance to understand the origins of this virus " in a collegial way.
The WHO announced earlier this year that it would set up a scientific advisory group on the origins of new pathogens (Sago).
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical officer on Covid-19, said Sago would urgently assess what was now known, what was still unknown and what needed to be fquickly.
"I expect the Sago. .. will recommend further studies in China and potentially elsewhere," she said. "There is no time to waste in this.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chen Xu, Chinese Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the UN Correspondents Association that Sago's work should not be "politicized".
"If we are going to send teams elsewhere, I think it 's not in China because we have already hosted international teams twice, "he said. "It's time to send teams elsewhere.
In August, China rejected WHO calls for a new field investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
In addition to the current crisis inCovid, a growing number of high-risk pathogens have emerged or re-emerged in recent years, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), Avian Flu viruses, Lassa, Marburg and Ebola.
"The emergence of new viruses that can trigger epidemics and pandemias is a natural fact, and while Sars-CoV-2 is the last of these viruses, it will not be not the last, "said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential to prevent future epidemics.
The 26 members proposed by WHO were chosen from over 700 nominations and come from a range of scientific disciplines.
The team is subject to a two-week public consultation.
They include Christian Drosten, director of the 'Berlin Institute of Virology; Yungui Yang from the Beijing Genomics Institute; Jean-Claude Manuguerra from the Institut Pasteur de France; and Inger Damon from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Several of the experts were part of the WHO-China joint science mission investigating the origins of Covid -19: Vladimir Dedkov, Farag Elmoubasher, Thea Fischer, Marion Koopmans, Hung Nguyen and John Watson.
The terms of reference state that the group must give to the WHO an independent assessment of all available scientific and technical findings from global studies on the origins of Covid-19.
It is also to advise the agency United Nations Health Department on the development, monitoring and support of the next round of studies on the origins of the virus. This could include "quick tips" on WHO's operational plans for implementing the next round of studies.es on the origins of the pandemic, and advice on further studies.
The pandemic has killed more than 4.85 million people and struck the global economy since the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
After much delay, a team from the WHO's international experts traveled to Wuhan in January 2021 to produce a first phase report, written in collaboration with their Chinese counterparts. Their March report n 'made no firm conclusions , but ranked four hypotheses.
Most likely the virus was passed from bats to humans via a intermediate animal he mentioned. He ruled that a leak from the Wuhan virology labs was "extremely unlikely ".
However, the survey has been criticized for lack of transparency and access, and for failing to assess the lab-leak theory more thoroughly .