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WHO says it may be ‘final probability’ to find COVID origins


GENEVA, Oct 13 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned on Wednesday its newly shaped advisory group on harmful pathogens may be “our last chance” to decide the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and known as for cooperation from China.

The first human instances of COVID-19 had been reported within the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan in December 2019. China has repeatedly dismissed theories that the virus leaked from certainly one of its laboratories and has mentioned no extra visits are wanted.

A WHO-led workforce spent 4 weeks in and round Wuhan earlier this yr with Chinese scientists, and mentioned in a joint report in March that the virus had in all probability been transmitted from bats to people by means of one other animal however additional analysis was wanted.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has mentioned that the investigation was hampered by a dearth of uncooked information pertaining to the primary days of the outbreak’s unfold and has known as for lab audits.

The WHO on Wednesday named the 26 proposed members of its Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). They embody Marion Koopmans, Thea Fischer, Hung Nguyen and Chinese animal well being skilled Yang Yungui, who took half within the joint investigation in Wuhan. L1N2R91AM


Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, voiced hope that there would be additional WHO-led worldwide missions to China which might interact the nation’s cooperation.

She informed a news convention that “more than three dozen recommended studies” nonetheless wanted to be carried out to decide how the virus crossed from the animal species to people.

Reported Chinese exams for antibodies current in Wuhan residents in 2019 will be “absolutely critical” to understanding the virus’s origins, van Kerkhove mentioned.

Mike Ryan, WHO’s high emergency skilled, mentioned the brand new panel may be the final probability to set up the origin of SARS-CoV-2, “a virus that has stopped our whole world”.

The WHO was looking for to “take a step back, create an environment where we can again look at the scientific issues”, he mentioned.

Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, informed a separate news convention the conclusions of the joint examine had been “quite clear,” including that as worldwide groups had been despatched to China twice already, “it is time to send teams to other places.”

“I do believe that if we are going to continue with the scientific research I think it should be a joint effort based on science not by the intelligence agencies,” Chen mentioned. “So if we are going to talk about anything, we are doing the whole business with the framework of SAGO”.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

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