The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday Nominated 26 scientists for a new advisory board that will study the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
why it matters: Without a change in Beijing’s attitude, the new panel is unlikely to be successful in determining how the pandemic began. But it should be in a position to paint a clear picture of how to recognize where new diseases like COVID-19 come from.
- The scientists were vetted for conflicts of interest and have more expertise on laboratory biorisk, which may help study a hypothesis that the virus leaked from a lab.
running news: The new panel includes a US scientist and a Chinese researcher – two countries at the center of controversy over the origins of COVID – as well as the head of a Swiss biosecurity centre, which sends signals WHO will consider the principles of zoonotic spillover as well as the possibility of a laboratory leak.
- Flashback: The original – and now-disbanded – WHO investigative team came under criticism for dismissing a laboratory leak as “extremely impossible” in its report published earlier this year.
description: The new group will assess recent studies on potential animal reservoirs of the virus, and advise WHO on potential future field research that may be needed – including looking at laboratories where the first human infections were recorded in Wuhan, China. Had gone.
- yes but: Such field work would require Beijing’s nod, and “this new group can do all the fancy footwork it wants, but China isn’t going to cooperate,” said one of the leaders of global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Senior Partner David Fiedler, told the New York Times.
what to watch: Specifically, the new panel will be charged with looking beyond COVID-19 and investigating the origins of any newly emerging diseases to come – which the WHO commonly refers to as “disease X”.
- WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has answered the millions of people who have died from COVID-19 as to where and how the virus originated. co-authored an editorial published in Today Science.
- “It is in everyone’s interest to better prepare for the next disease X.”