Last chance to find Covid origins, says WHO

Last chance to find Covid origins, says WHO
Questions around the origins of Covid-19 centre on Wuhan, where the virus first emerged. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a taskforce and says this may be the last chance to find the origins of Covid-19.

The global health body has nominated 26 experts to join the body, the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (Sago).

More than a year-and-a-half since the deadly virus was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the question of how it first emerged is not clear.

The WHO team will consider if the virus leaked in a lab accident or jumped from animals to humans in Wuhan markets.

China has strongly refuted the lab theory.

A WHO team tasked with investigating Covid’s origins flew to China in February and concluded that the virus had probably come from bats but that more work was needed.

The investigating team called the lab leak theory “extremely unlikely”.

But Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, later said the investigation had been hampered by a lack of data and transparency from China.

The proposed members of the Sago group include 6 experts who visited China as part of the previous team.

Aside from Covid-19, Sago will also look into the origins of other high-risk pathogens.

Dr Tedros said: “Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks.”

Dr Tedros and other WHO officials said in a joint editorial in the journal Science that “a lab accident cannot be ruled out”.

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